61 Cal.2d 256, 27674, Vandermark v. Ford Motor Co.

Docket Nº:27674
Citation:61 Cal.2d 256, 37 Cal.Rptr. 896, 391 P.2d 168
Opinion Judge:[11] Traynor
Party Name:Vandermark v. Ford Motor Co.
Attorney:[7] Edward L. Lascher and Donald C. Lozano for Plaintiffs and Appellants. [8] Eugene P. Fay, Edward I. Pollock and Pollock, Pollock & Fay as Amici Curiae on behalf of Plaintiffs and Appellants. [9] Dryden, Harrington, Horgan & Swartz, Vernon G. Foster, Moss, Lyon & Dunn, Gerold C. Dunn and Henry ...
Case Date:April 21, 1964
Court:Supreme Court of California

Page 256

61 Cal.2d 256

37 Cal.Rptr. 896, 391 P.2d 168

Chester M. VANDERMARK et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants,


FORD MOTOR COMPANY et al., Defendants and Respondents,

L. A. 27674.

Supreme Court of California

April 21, 1964.

In Bank

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Edward L. Lascher, Oxnard, and Donald C. Lozano, Encino, for plaintiffs and appellants.

Eugene P. Fay, Edward I. Pollock and Pollock, Pollock & Fay, Los Angeles, as amici curiae on behalf of plaintiffs and appellants.

Dryden, Harrington, Horgan & Swartz, Vernon G. Foster, Moss, Lyon & Dunn, Gerold C. Dunn and Henry F. Walker, Los Angeles, for defendants and respondents.

TRAYNOR, Justice.

In October 1958 plaintiff Chester Vandermark bought a new Ford automobile from defendant Lorimer Diesel Engine Company, an authorized Ford dealer doing business as Maywood Bell Ford. About six weeks later, while driving on the San Bernardino Freeway, he lost control of the car. It went off the highway to the right and collided with a light post. He and his sister, plaintiff Mary Tresham, suffered serious injuries. They brought this action for damages against Maywood Bell Ford and the Ford Motor Company, which manufactured and assembled the car. They pleaded causes of action for breach of warranty and negligence. The trial court granted Ford's motion for a nonsuit on all causes of action and directed a verdict in favor of Maywood Bell on

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the warranty causes of action. The jury returned a verdict for Maywood Bell on the negligence causes of action, and the trial court entered judgment on the verdict. Plaintiffs appeal.

Vandermark and driven the car approximately 1500 miles before the accident. He used it primarily in town, but drove it on two occasions from his home in Huntington Park to Joshua Tree in San Bernardino County. He testified that the car operated normally before the accident except once when he was driving home from Joshua Tree. He was in the left-hand west-bound lane of the San Bernardino Freeway when traffic ahead slowed. He applied the brakes and the car 'started to make a little dive to the right and continued on across the two lanes of traffic till she hit the shoulder. Whatever it was then let go and I was able to then pull her back into the road.' He drove home without further difficulty, but before using the car again, he took it to Maywood Bell for the regular 1000-mile new car servicing. He testified that he described the freeway incident to Maywood Bell's service attendant, but Maywood Bell's records do not indicate that any complaint was made.

After the car was serviced, Vandermark drove it in town on short trips totaling approximately 300 miles. He and his sister then set out on another trip to Joshua Tree. He testified that while driving in the right-hand lane of the freeway at about 45 to 50 miles per hour, 'the car started to make a little shimmy or weave and started pulling to the right. * * * I tried to pull back, but it didn't seem to come, so I applied my brakes gently to see if I could straighten her up, but I couldn't seem to pull her back to the left. So, I let off on the brakes and she continued to the right, and I tried again to put on the brakes and she wouldn't come back, and all of a sudden this pole was in front of me and we smashed into it.' Plaintiff Tresham testified to a substantially similar version of the accident. A witness for plaintiffs, who was driving above 200 feet behind them, testified that plaintiffs' car was in the right-hand lane when he...

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