Jon Campisi Jul. 6, 2012, 8:34am

The widow of a Delaware County man who died after a vehicle crash on Interstate 76

early last year has filed a wrongful death claim against an auto repair service, contending the defendant was to blame for the poor condition of the dead man’s vehicle at the time of the fatal vehicle accident.

High-power Philadelphia personal injury attorney Robert Mongeluzzi, of the firm Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett & Bendesky, filed the civil action June 27 at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on behalf of Yeadon, Pa. resident Renee Spells.

The defendant named in the lawsuit is Philadelphia-based E&J Auto Repair Services Inc.

In her complaint, Spells, who is suing on behalf of her deceased husband, James Edward Spells, Jr., claims that the defendant was negligent as the primary maintenance provider of the 1998 Ford Explorer that James Spells was driving back on Feb. 6, 2011, at the time of the crash.

At about 4 p.m. on that day, James Spells was attempting to merge into an eastbound travel lane on Interstate 76, also know as the Schuylkill Expressway, when he lost control of the vehicle, according to the complaint.

James Spells, who was traveling in the left lane, was attempting to merge back into the center lane of the highway at the same time as another vehicle, causing him to steer back left to avoid a collision, at which time the vehicle overturned and repeatedly rolled over, the suit states.

As a result of the accident, James Spells sustained blunt force trauma to the head, neck and chest. He was taken to Hahnemann University Hospital where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

The lawsuit states that the Ford Explorer James Spells was driving at the time of the accident was prone to rollovers and handling instability.

The complaint claims that as the sole maintenance provider of the Explorer, defendant E&J was responsible for maintaining the vehicle in good operating condition in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications, and without unauthorized modification.

The suit accuses E&J of negligence for failing to adequately inform and warn users of the vehicle of the rollover propensity of Explorers, failing to warn users of the vehicle’s instability issues, failing to ensure that the vehicle was maintained for safe operation, releasing and supplying the vehicle in a defective condition, and releasing and supplying a product that lacked all necessary safety features to protect users of the product.

In addition to the negligence count, the lawsuit contains counts of wrongful death and survival action.

Renee Spells claims she entitled to recover claims related to medical, funeral, burial and estate administration expenses.

The plaintiff also seeks damages relating to loss of consortium.

For each of the three counts listed in the complaint, Renee Spells seeks damages in excess of $50,000, plus costs and delay damages.

A jury trial has been demanded.


The case ID number is 120603534.

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