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Sudden Conflagration of Car Results in Wrongful Death of Texas Woman

Two families filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Mitsubishi, Smylie Unlimited and Meineke Car Care Centers after a woman burned to death in a car that suddenly went up in flames.

Jessica Fertitta was leaving her grandparent’s home early in the morning and stopped at an intersection about a half block from their home. Suddenly, her car was ablaze. The wrongful death lawsuit alleges that the young woman’s 2001 Mitsubishi Montero inexplicably malfunctioned, causing a fire that engulfed the vehicle and resulted in her death in February of 2011. The suit seeks damages from the court for the conscious pain and suffering Fertitta experienced prior to her death, for funeral and burial costs, for mental anguish and for the loss of her companionship and society.

On-scene accident investigators suspected that the fire was accidental and that it may have been caused by a mechanical malfunction. The lawsuit asserts that Mitsubishi was responsible for the grossly negligent design and manufacturing of the flawed vehicle. The other two defendants, Smylie and Meinke, were allegedly negligent in inspecting and repairing the car, and were thus in breach of warranty.

The case is founded upon two arguments: that Fertitta’s Montero was somehow defective as a result of shoddy design and manufacturing by Mitsubishi, and that the two car care companies who serviced and inspected the defective vehicle did so negligently and in a manner that resulted in Fertitta’s death. The case will turn upon the existence of such a design flaw (or the lack thereof). It is likely that the case faces a long process before resolution in court.

Such a case involves important technical components. It will concern the inner workings of various automobiles, the way in which multiple parts are serviced and inspected and the factors technicians consider when they service a vehicle. If there is a flaw in the design of the car, a technician may not have been aware of it or may not have seen it while performing maintenance. Should there be a flaw, it may have been unknown to Mitsubishi until some unexplained event, such as this mysterious fire, triggered inquiry. An injury attorney must ensure that all avenues of explanation are probed as he or she seeks justice — and a fair and equitable outcome — for the family.

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