United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division
MILDEMONT, INC. d/b/a BIG BRAKE of MS PLAINTIFF
FORD MOTOR COMPANY DEFENDANT
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT FORD
MOTOR COMPANY'S MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 
SULEYMAN OZERDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
THE COURT is Defendant Ford Motor Company's Motion for
Summary Judgment  filed July 1, 2016. This Motion is
fully briefed. Also before the Court is Defendant Ford Motor
Company's Motion for Summary Judgment as to Punitive
Damages  filed July 1, 2016. No responsive pleading has
been filed to this Motion. Having considered the parties'
submissions, the record as a whole, and relevant legal
authority, the Court is of the opinion that Defendant's
Motions   should both be granted.
case arises out of a fire that occurred at Plaintiff
Mildemont, Inc. d/b/a Big Brake of MS's
(“Plaintiff”) place of business on May 5, 2012.
Compl. [1-2] at 1-2. At the time of the fire, a 2001 Ford
F-150 Super Crew four-door pickup truck owned by Strickland
Motors was parked in the garage of Plaintiff's business,
Compl. [1-2] at 1-2, for “unspecified repairs and
maintenance, ” Pl. Mem. in Opp'n  at 5. The
fire damaged Plaintiff's “building, business, and
equipment.” Pl. Mem. in Opp'n  at 5.
4, 2015, Plaintiff filed a Complaint [1-2] in the Circuit
Court of Harrison County, Mississippi, First Judicial
District, advancing claims of negligence, product liability,
and punitive damages against Defendant Ford Motor Company
(“Defendant”). The Complaint alleges that the May
5, 2012, fire was caused by a “an electrical short or
failure of the speed control deactivation switch” in
the truck while it was parked in the garage of
Plaintiff's business. Compl. [1-2] at 1-2. Plaintiff
asserts that the fire spread from the truck to “the
structure of the business” causing damage to the
building's structure and equipment and a loss of business
removed the case to this Court on July 1, 2015. Notice of
Removal . On July 1, 2016, Defendant filed its first
Motion for Summary Judgment . In this Motion, Defendant
argues that Plaintiff's claim under the Mississippi
Products Liability Act, Mississippi Code § 11-1-63
(“MPLA”), fails for a lack of expert testimony
and based upon the fact that the F-150 was materially altered
by a third party prior to the fire. Mem. in Supp.  at
1-12. Defendant further asserts that Plaintiff's state
common law claims are subsumed by the MPLA. Id. at
2, 14-15. Also on July 1, 2016, Defendant filed a second
Motion for Summary on Plaintiff's Punitive Damages Claim
, arguing that Plaintiff has failed to produce any
“clear and convincing” evidence that Defendant
acted fraudulently or with gross negligence. Mem. in Supp.
 at 1.
29, 2016, Plaintiff filed its Response in Opposition  to
Defendant's first Motion for Summary Judgment 
maintaining that genuine issues of material fact exist
concerning the following questions:
a. Whether the speed control deactivation switch in the
subject vehicle constitutes a defective product?
b. Whether Ford designed the vehicle?
c. Whether the vehicle was designed in a defective manner?
d. Whether Ford Motor Company knew or should have known that
the speed control deactivation switch was defectively
designed at the time the subject vehicle left Ford's
e. Whether as a result of the defective condition, the
vehicle failed to function as expected by an ordinary
consumer with ordinary knowledge common to the community?
f. Whether a feasible design alternative existed which would
have to a reasonable probability prevented the harm suffered
by the Plaintiff without impairing the utility, usefulness,
practicality, or desirability of the vehicle to users and
g. Whether a defective condition rendered the vehicle
unreasonably dangerous to the user or consumer?
h. Whether the speed control deactivation switch was the
actual and proximate cause of the fire responsible for
damaging the Plaintiff's building, business, and
i. Whether Ford Motor Company's speed control
deactivation switch through a course of conduct, and/or
through resjudicata (sic), has admitted ...