Funkhouser v. Ford Motor Co.Annotate this Case
Steven Funkhouser's three-year-old twins were playing in their parents' 2001 Ford Windstar when a fire erupted in the passenger compartment of the van. One of the twins died as a result of third-degree burns she received. Funkhouser, as administrator of his daughter's estate, brought a products liability action against For Motor Company and Obaugh Ford (collectively, Ford). Funkhouser sought to introduce evidence of seven other Ford Windstar fires that occurred prior to the Funkhouser fire that were parked and not in operation. The court excluded the evidence and ruled that Funkhouser's expert witnesses could not rely on the excluded evidence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because none of the seven prior fires were the same or substantially similar to the Funkhouser fire, the evidence was properly excluded for failing the substantial similarity test; and (2) an expert cannot offer opinion testimony based on evidence that fails the substantial similarity test, and accordingly, the trial court did not err in precluding Funkhouser's experts from relying on the evidence of the seven other Windstar fires as a basis for their opinions.