Christensen v. Alaska Sales & Service, Inc.Annotate this Case
In 2008, four years after appellants Ramona Christensen and Jack Scott purchased a new car, it collided with two moose on the Parks Highway. After the collision Christensen called the police to report the accident and called Scott to come pick her up at the scene. When Scott arrived Christensen said she felt nauseated, and Scott noticed a red mark on her forehead. Christensen could not remember many details of the collision, including whether she hit her head on something inside the car. During the days following the accident, Christensen reported feeling light-headed and dizzy. Christensen’s speech became disfluent and broken, and her gait became unsteady, causing her to fall repeatedly. About one week after the accident, Christensen sought medical attention to address her worsening symptoms. A neurologist examined Christensen and ordered an MRI spectroscopy. The spectroscopy showed evidence of bilateral frontal lobe brain damage. Since 2008 numerous other physicians and psychiatrists have examined and treated Christensen for her continuing speech, short-term memory, and mobility problems. The couple sued the car dealership for product liability, alleging that the car’s seat belt failed to restrain the driver in the accident. The superior court granted summary judgment to the dealership, concluding that "no reasonable jury could find that the Plaintiffs have proven that the seat belt . . . was defective." The couple appealed, arguing that the superior court applied an incorrect summary judgment standard and that genuine issues of material fact made summary judgment inappropriate. Because the Supreme Court concluded that the couple raised genuine issues of material fact regarding a seat belt defect and causation of the driver’s injury, it reversed the superior court’s grant of summary judgment.