Platte City couple is suing car manufacturer Nissan North America after a Nissan vehicle allegedly caught fire while parked in their garage.
According to the eight-page lawsuit, no one was injured when the fire ignited but it caused upwards of $500,000 in property damage.
Samuel and Beth Hitzelberger of Platte City have retained attorney Court Kennedy with the Gates Shields Ferguson Swall Hammond law firm to litigate the suit against the manufacturer.
According to the lawsuit, Beth’s mother, Karen Atkins, purchased a new navy blue 2010 Nissan Maxima in 2009 from a Nissan dealership along the KCI corridor. Over the course of nine years, Atkins exclusively used the dealership’s service department to carry out the scheduled maintenance or service, according to court documents.
On May 20, 2018, a “fire ignited” in the Maxima’s engine compartment as the vehicle was stored inside a garage at the Hitzelberger’s home near N.W. 136th Street and Running Horse Road in Platte City, according to court documents.
The vehicle’s key, the suit says, was not inside the ignition and the vehicle was not running when it caught fire.
“Subsequent investigation ruled out all potential causes of the fire other than the manifestation of a defect in the engine compartment” of the vehicle, the suit says.
Atkins was living above the garage but was not injured in the fire. There was extensive damage to the home and property, court documents indicate.
Strict product liability
Hitzelberger’s attorney are claiming strict product liability, which protects consumers from unsafe and harmful products even when the manufacturer has used a reasonable degree of care.
In order to claim strict liability, the Hitzelberger’s attorney is arguing that the vehicle was in a “defective and unreasonably dangerous condition” when the Nissan dealership sold it.
The suit also contends the defective condition of the vehicle caused it to catch fire, resulting in more than $500,000 in property damage.
The suit goes on the say the manufacturer’s failure to “exercise ordinary care” to make a product safe rises to a level of product liability based on negligence.
“The design of the product created the condition in which the product could fail in a way that causes a fire,” the suit claims.
The suit contends the manufacturer failed to warn customers that the product could “fail in a way that causes a fire.”