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Ochoa-Valenzuela v. Ford Motor Company (2017)

March 27, 2017

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Horvitz & Levy LLP obtained a successful result for its client, the Ford Motor Company, in this Ninth Circuit appeal.

The plaintiff in this action was injured when a deer ran in front of the 2000 Ford Focus in which the plaintiff was a passenger.  The driver swerved and lost control of the car, which rolled over multiple times before coming to rest.  The plaintiff sustained a broken neck in the crash.  She sued Ford, arguing that that the Ford Focus was defectively designed because the roof was not sufficiently strong.  The jury ultimately found for Ford.  The plaintiff appealed, raising numerous evidentiary arguments including that the district court should not have permitted Ford to impeach her roof-design expert with the deposition testimony of his business partner from another case.  Horvitz & Levy represented Ford on appeal.

Although the Ninth Circuit agreed with plaintiff that the impeachment evidence was inadmissible hearsay, we persuaded the court that the error was harmless in the context of the entire trial, in which the overwhelming evidence favored Ford’s theory of the case.  We also successfully argued the district court was within its discretion when ruling on the various other evidentiary issues plaintiff raised.  The Ninth Circuit thus affirmed the defense verdict.