— A wrongful death lawsuit filed against General Motors and a Florida auto dealer will proceed after a judge said there was enough evidence to support plaintiff claims.
Stephen Stutzman, 22, was driving a 2011 Chevrolet Express 2500 van on August 14, 2012, when the van allegedly accelerated to 100 mph and crashed. Stutzman was pronounced dead at the scene.
His parents, Karl and Sharon Stutzman, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against General Motors and a Florida Chevy dealer alleging a defect in the van caused it to accelerate out of control.
According to the lawsuit, Stephen Stutzman was driving home when he approached the intersection of two county roads. Instead of stopping, the Chevrolet Express 2500 accelerated to almost 100 mph, went airborne through a barrier fence, hit a light pole, traveled over a cement culvert and down an embankment finally landing upside down against the metal highway rail.
Stutzman was pronounced dead at the scene.
The parents claim a defective electronic control system caused their son's accident and death, in addition to allegations the dealership failed to repair water leakage at the instrument panel. The plaintiffs claim the leaking water caused rust and corrosion that allowed water to damage electrical components.
The dealership, George Nahas Chevrolet, filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in 2014, but Circuit Judge Edward Scott ruled against the motion to dismiss by saying Stephen's parents had enough evidence on their side to continue the case.
Court documents say the crash data records from the van show the electronic control system took acceleration and braking abilities away from Stutzman and left him helpless to stop the van.
Karl and Sharon Stutzman are represented by Bill Norton of the law firm of Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley.