Fierro v. General Motors Corp.

A Travis County jury exonerated General Motors of any negligence with regard to the stability and handling design of the 2004 Chevrolet Suburban at the close of a three-week trial in Austin. The case was brought against GM by an Austin family after a single-vehicle rollover accident on Interstate Highway 10 near Fort Stockton, Texas in the Winter of 2004.

Six members of the Fierro/Olivas family were driving a rented 2004 Suburban along I-10 during a severe ice and freezing rain storm. The driver, Leslie Denise Fierro, failed to slow the vehicle to compensate for the slippery conditions and lost control of the Suburban, causing it to slide into the median where it rolled three times before coming to rest upright. Three passengers were ejected. Leslie Fierro, although she remained in the vehicle, suffered a serious head injury, and Fierro’s elderly grandfather, Raul Olivas, died shortly after the accident from internal cranial bleeding.

The Plaintiffs alleged that GM was negligent for not making StabiliTrak (GM’s trade name for its electronic stability control system) standard on all 2004 Suburbans (it was an option for the 2004 Suburban). They further alleged that despite Fierro’s high speed and the nearly traction-free iced over roadway, StabiliTrak could have somehow prevented the accident.

After nearly three weeks of evidence and an hour of deliberations, the jury disagreed, concluding that GM was not negligent in the design of the Suburban and placing 100% of the fault for the accident on the driver, Leslie Fierro. GM was represented by David Prichard and Tony Avey of the San Antonio office of PHMY. The Plaintiffs were represented by Dan Rottier and Don Slavik of the Wisconsin firm of Habush, Habush & Rottier.