Court weighs allowing Mazda seat belt lawsuit |

Court weighs allowing Mazda seat belt lawsuit

The Supreme Court is debating whether to let Mazda be sued over a woman who died while using a seat belt in her family’s minivan.

Mazda says it is immune from lawsuits because the federal government allowed it to install either lap or shoulder-and-lap seat belts in the middle rear seat.

But Thanh Williamson’s family says the car manufacturer was negligent by installing only a lap belt.

Williamson died in a 2002 accident while riding in her family’s 1993 Mazda MPV minivan. Her family says her body jackknifed around the lap belt causing fatal internal injuries.

Their lawsuit in California state court was thrown out. Lower court judges said federal approval of either lap or shoulder-and-lap belts trumps complaints filed in state courts.

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