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6 Tex. Tech L. Rev. 1177 (1974-1975)
Products Liability - Strict Tort Liability Will Lie When a Design Enhances Injuries, but Does Not Cause the Accident - Turner v. General Motors Corp.

handle is hein.journals/text6 and id is 1191 raw text is: Products Liability-Strict Tort Liability Will Lie When a De-
sign Defect Enhances Injuries, But Does Not Cause the
Accident. Turner v. General Motors Corp., 514 S.W.2d 497 (Tex.
Civ. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 1974, no writ).
In April, 1971, Robert Turner was following a truck on a farm-
to-market road. When the truck pulled to the right shoulder, Turner
accelerated in an attempt to pass. At that time the truck began to
make a left turn; to avoid the impending collision, Turner veered
off the right shoulder of the road, began to slow down, and at-
tempted to return to the road. As his 1969 Chevrolet four-door sedan
rolled over, the roof collapsed and injured Turner's head. This in-
jury caused paralysis in Turner's hands and legs.'
Turner filed suit against General Motors Corp., the automobile
manufacturer, and the automobile dealer who sold him the car.
Turner alleged that the automobile was defectively designed be-
cause the roof would not support the weighot-f -the automobile.
General Motors filed a plea of privilege2 to be sued in the county of
its incorporation. Turner filed a controverting affidavit in which he
had to show as one of the venue facts that he had a bona fide claim
against the defendant. All other venue facts were present in this
case, and the facts necessary to support a bona fide claim were
present if such a cause of action existed.3 The sustaining of the plea
of privilege was in effect a determination by the court that no such
cause of action existed. This ruling was reversed by the Texas Court
of Civil Appeals. The court held that an automobile manufacturer
may be held strictly liable for a defective design that enhances the
injuries of the plaintiff, even though the defect did not cause the
1. Turner v. General Motors Corp., 514 S.W.2d 497 (Tex. Civ. App.-Houston [14th
Dist.] 1974, no writ).
2. TEX. REV. CIV. STAT. ANN. art. 1995 (1964). Subdivision 4 of article 1995 states, If
two or more defendants reside in different counties, suit may be brought in any county where
one of the defendants resides. The necessary venue facts under subdivision 4 are that one
defendant reside in the county of the suit, that the party making the plea of privilege is at
least a proper party, and that the plaintiff has a bona fide claim against the resident defen-
dant. Id. at art. 1995(4).
3. Turner v. General Motors Corp., 514 S.W.2d 497 (Tex. Civ. App.-Houston [14th
Dist.] 1974, no writ). The trial court made specific findings of fact: the injury was caused by
the collapsed roof; the auto was in substantially the same condition as when it was sold; the
roof was defectively designed; the design made the car unreasonably dangerous; the danger
was not contemplated by the consumer.
4. Id. at 504. A dissenting opinion was written by Chief Justice Tunks. He agreed with
the law as discussed by the majority, but he thought there was insufficient evidence for the


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