Twenty-nine-year-old Brooke Melton had been driving her white 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt along Hiram Acworth Highway in Dallas, Georgia on March 10, 2010 at around 7:30 p.m. when she lost control of it, causing it to hydroplane across the center line, get hit by an oncoming Ford Focus, and fall 15 feet down into the waters of Picketts Mill Creek.
Melton, placed in a gurney inside an ambulance, was rushed to the WellStar Paulding Hospital in Hiram, which was approximately 6 miles from the accident area. She died in the intensive care unit from blunt force trauma that broke her neck.
Melton’s father, Ken, could not let her death rest. He scrolled through online discussion boards and was able to find other GM vehicle owners complaining about their vehicles’ mechanical defects; one father refused to let her daughter drive the family’s Cobalt after several incidents of it stalling.
Results from the investigation on Melton’s death showed that it was her fault that the accident happened; it also contained little details that made it seem as if the incident had all been an accident that could not have been predicted by anyone: a rainy evening, a fast rate of speed, a hydroplaning car, an oncoming vehicle. However, with these new revelations, Ken thought that maybe it was not his daughter’s fault; maybe it was the manufacturer of the vehicle that his daughter had been driving that was the one who caused her death.
Ken and his attorneys combed through resources like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and federal databases to find out cases similar to the death of his daughter. Then, they filed a lawsuit against GM which claimed negligence for its role in “designing, inspecting, manufacturing, assembling, marketing, selling, and providing warnings for the Cobalt”.
GM issued a recall of 1.3 million vehicles, including the Cobalt, because of defective power steering, nine years prior to Melton’s death.
Over the years, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has instituted mandatory – which were once optional – safety features for vehicles that will be manufactured and sold in America: three-point seat belts, antilock brakes, and airbags. However, or due to, these safety enhancements, the number of defective vehicles on the road are higher than ever, with the agency reporting 63.9 million vehicle recalls, or one out of every four cars in the U.S., in 2014. The website of Ausband & Dumont says that truck manufacturers are liable for the defects and malfunctions in their products and people who are hurt by these mistakes can hold manufacturers accountable.read more