Defective Design: 15 Passenger Van Rollover Results in Ejection and Death
Wichita County, Texas: On May 6, 2001, a 1993 Dodge Ram 3500 15-passenger van, owned by the First Assembly of God Church, experienced a de-tread event on the rear driver’s side tire, manufactured by Michelin. The driver of the van lost control, and due to the high center of gravity in the van, it then began to roll. Marlene Bolduc and Asline Hinostrosa were seated in the first bench seat behind the driver, and both women were ejected from the van. Ms. Bolduc suffered catastrophic injuries, and Ms. Hinostrosa was killed.
The driver of the van in question was not able to control the vehicle after the de-tread event due to the inherent handling problems with the van and its instability. Wigington Rumley Dunn & Blair, L.L.P. filed suit contending that these defects caused or contributed to the loss of control and the rollover event. The handling characteristics have been well documented within DaimlerChrysler, along with the phenomenon known by DaimlerChrysler as "steering wander." The van has an extremely high center of gravity, especially when loaded. This has been confirmed in numerous fatal Dodge 15-passenger van accidents across the county and by FARS data detailing scores of deaths. The vans have recently come under scrutiny, based on this data, by the NHTSA, which has published a consumer advisory concerning this vehicle. This case settled for a confidential sum.