Volkswagen of America, Inc. v. Young

Court of Appeals of Maryland

321 A.2d 737 (Md. 1974)

An automobile manufacturer has a duty to use reasonable care in the design of its vehicle to avoid subjecting the user to an unreasonable risk of injury in the event of a collision.

Relevant Facts

The decedent of Young (the plaintiff) was stopped at a red light in his Volkswagen Beetle, which was manufactured by Volkswagen of American, Inc. (the defendant). While stopped, the decedent’s car was hit from behind which pushed the decedent’s car forward. The force of the collision caused the seat bracketing pieces and adjustment mechanisms to break away from the car, hurling the decedent through the windshield into the car in front of him and killing him. The plaintiff brought suit against the defendant in federal district court on the basis that the Volkswagen Beetle was “defectively designed, manufactured, and marketed with defects which rendered it structurally hazardous, not merchantable, and not fit for the purpose intended.” The plaintiff also alleged that the Beetle’s seat structure was especially vulnerable to separation during collisions. The district court certified to the Maryland Court of Appeals the issue of whether the “intended use” of a vehicle pertains to its involvement in a collision.

Issue

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Holding & Reasoning

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Concurrence

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Dissent

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Last updated:

December 12, 2020

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Procedural History

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Citations

321 A.2d 737 (Md. 1974)