Chevy Silverado Crushed Roof Lawsuit Moves Forward

Plaintiff Miranda Polk says 2008 Chevrolet Silverado roof shouldn't have crushed in rollover crash.

Chevy Silverado Crushed Roof Lawsuit Moves Forward

Posted in News

— A Chevrolet Silverado roof collapse lawsuit will continue even though the truck crashed and rolled over three times and the occupant who sued was not wearing a seat belt.

In June 2016, Miranda Polk, Zachary Colley and Trey Barone were traveling in a 2008 Chevrolet Silverado truck southbound on Florida State Road 207 in St. John’s County, Florida.

The truck was owned and driven by Zachary Colley, and Miranda Polk was seated in the middle of the truck’s passenger seat bench.

For an unknown reason, Colley suddenly swerved and lost control of the Silverado. He tried to regain control of the truck but over-corrected, causing the Silverado to rollover three times.

Colley and Barone were not wearing their seat belts and were ejected during the rollover. Plaintiff Miranda Polk also was not wearing her seat belt but remained in the vehicle and became trapped in the Silverado as it rolled.

The lawsuit calls the damage, "matchboxing," which allegedly occurs "when the roof pillars that support the roof collapse by bending at weak points and where they attach to the body of the vehicle. The A-pillar collapses laterally and the roof crushes downward on top of the vehicle’s occupant(s).”

Fire rescue found Polk pinned in the fetal position in the Silverado and had to extricate her by cutting the A-pillar and B-pillar of the Silverado’s roof. According to the lawsuit, Polk sustained a severe spinal cord injury that resulted in paraplegia.

Polk hired experts to investigate the truck. Two experts inspected the Silverado, and in December 2016 Polk substituted a different expert for one who inspected the truck.

Polk’s attorneys authorized the original inspectors to close their file, and the consulting firm destroyed all the evidence.

The plaintiff sued in May 2020 by alleging her injuries were caused because the Silverado was defectively designed.

Chevy Silverado Crushed Roof: GM's Response

GM's argument is simple. Polk allegedly cannot show the Silverado was defective and she cannot show some alleged defect caused her injuries.

General Motors says her injuries were caused by not wearing a seat belt in a violent crash that involved a truck rolling over three times.

GM also says the lawsuit should be dismissed because the Silverado was sold before GM could inspect it.

In addition, GM argues Polk's expert witness should be excluded because he isn't qualified, he never inspected the truck and his testimony will allegedly not help a jury.

Even though he never inspected the Silverado in-person, the expert claims the Silverado has seven design defects. He asserts the 2008 Chevy Silverado was defective and "unreasonably dangerous and unsafe."

The expert also claims there were seven alternative designs GM could have used to make the 2008 Chevy Silverado safer.

GM argues Polk's expert is not a physician and is not an engineer and has no qualifications to testify about medical causation and biomechanics.

The judge says plaintiff Polk never responded to GM and has not provided evidence to show her expert is qualified to testify about medical causation and biomechanics.

"As Polk has failed to provide any evidence that Bloch [the expert] is qualified to testify about medical causation and biomechanics, the Court will prohibit Bloch from testifying at trial regarding these subjects." — Judge Marcia Morales Howard

However, the judge ruled the expert can testify about alleged Silverado defects even though he never inspected the truck, never performed any accident reconstruction and never performed any tests on the truck.

According to Judge Howard, an expert “need not have inspected the car himself for him to determine that the car had a defect.”

Also allowed to proceed is the expert's opinion that alternate Silverado roof designs were available. However, the expert cannot testify if an alternative roof design would have prevented Polk’s injuries.

As for the rollover crash, the plaintiff argues the Silverado truck, “had a high center of gravity that caused handling and stability problems which made it likely to overturn during emergency maneuvers.”

The judge didn't buy that one because Polk failed to provide any expert testimony in support of her argument.

Then there is the headlight argument set forth by the expert who claims the headlights were also defective. The judge won't allow this claim to reach the jury because the headlight issue was never mentioned in the crushed roof lawsuit.

Though the lawsuit alleges the Silverado had design defects and the judge allowed the lawsuit to proceed based on those alleged design defects, the judge admits the court isn't sure what a "design defect" is.

"The definition of design defect is in a 'state of flux in Florida.'” — Judge Howard

The Chevrolet Silverado crushed roof lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida (Jacksonville Division): Miranda Polk v. General Motors LLC.