Bookmark and Share

 

LITIGATION

» Access to Courts and Court Remedies

» Campaign Finance and Election Laws

» Constitutional Rights and Requirements

» Health, Safety, and Environment

» Open Government and Open Courts

» Representing Consumers

» Workers' Rights


Currently Featured Topics

Government Transparency
Consumer Justice
First Amendment
Health, Safety and the Environment

SUPREME COURT
ASSISTANCE PROJECT

Read about our work helping lawyers
with cases in the Supreme Court.

 


  Public Citizen | Litigation Cases ***Search other cases***

Williamson v. Mazda Motor of America

Topic(s): Preemption of Consumer Remedies
Docket: 08-1314

Description:

Thanh Williamson was killed while riding in the second-row aisle seat of a Mazda minivan when it was struck head on by another vehicle. Her seat was equipped with a lap-only seatbelt, which caused fatal internal injuries when the impact of the collision caused her body to jackknife over the belt. After her death, Mrs. Williamson's family brought suit against Mazda, alleging that the van was defective because it lacked a lap/shoulder belt for the aisle seat. When the minivan was manufactured and sold, the relevant federal safety standard allowed but did not require that seat to have a lap/shoulder belt.

Public Citizen Litigation Group served as co-counsel for the Williamsons in the U.S. Supreme Court. The question before the Court was whether the Williamsons' damages claims were barred by implied conflict preemption, on the theory that holding Mazda accountable for failing to install a lap/shoulder belt would pose an obstacle to the federal safety standard in effect at the time. In a unanimous decision, the Court held that the claims were not preempted. The case returned to the trial court, where the Williamsons will have an opportunity to litigate their case on the merits.

Copyright © 2014 Public Citizen. Some rights reserved. Non-commercial use of text and images in which Public Citizen holds the copyright is permitted, with attribution, under the terms and conditions of a Creative Commons License. This Web site is shared by Public Citizen Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation. Learn More about the distinction between these two components of Public Citizen.


Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation

 

Together, two separate corporate entities called Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation, Inc., form Public Citizen. Both entities are part of the same overall organization, and this Web site refers to the two organizations collectively as Public Citizen.

Although the work of the two components overlaps, some activities are done by one component and not the other. The primary distinction is with respect to lobbying activity. Public Citizen, Inc., an IRS § 501(c)(4) entity, lobbies Congress to advance Public Citizen’s mission of protecting public health and safety, advancing government transparency, and urging corporate accountability. Public Citizen Foundation, however, is an IRS § 501(c)(3) organization. Accordingly, its ability to engage in lobbying is limited by federal law, but it may receive donations that are tax-deductible by the contributor. Public Citizen Inc. does most of the lobbying activity discussed on the Public Citizen Web site. Public Citizen Foundation performs most of the litigation and education activities discussed on the Web site.

You may make a contribution to Public Citizen, Inc., Public Citizen Foundation, or both. Contributions to both organizations are used to support our public interest work. However, each Public Citizen component will use only the funds contributed directly to it to carry out the activities it conducts as part of Public Citizen’s mission. Only gifts to the Foundation are tax-deductible. Individuals who want to join Public Citizen should make a contribution to Public Citizen, Inc., which will not be tax deductible.

 

To become a member of Public Citizen, click here.
To become a member and make an additional tax-deductible donation to Public Citizen Foundation, click here.