SW Legal studies in Business

No Damages Alleged, No Action for Damages Exists
Description North Dakota high court upheld the dismissal of a suit against an automobile maker for assorted torts claiming safety problems with the cars. Since no injury or damages were offered in evidence, there was no cause of action against the maker.
Topic Torts
Key Words Products Liability; Negligence; Fraud; Proof; Class Action
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Ziegelmann brought a class action on behalf of North Dakota owners of model year 1991 through 2000 vehicles made by DaimlerChrysler that were equipped with automatic transmissions lacking a park-brake interlock device. That device prevents the movement of the transmission from park into any other gear unless the driver steps on the brake pedal. Ziegelmann claims that since the park-brake interlock was the industry standard and used by all major car makers except DaimlerChrysler, the company was negligent in providing adequate safety and engaged in fraud in its advertising by claiming its vehicles were safe. The trial court dismissed the case for failure to state a claim. Ziegelmann appealed.
Decision

Affirmed. The torts of negligence, fraud and deceit require proof of actual damages as an essential element of a plaintiff's case. If no actual loss has occurred, the plaintiff fails to establish liability. Ziegelmann failed to show any injury to any member of the class, so there is no cause of action.

Citation Ziegelmann v. DsimlerChrysler Corp., 649 N.W.2d 556 (Sup. Ct., N.D., 2002)

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