Plaintiff, State Farm, brought this subrogation action against the defendant automobile manufacturer after a vehicle owned by State Farm's insured caught fire in December 1996.
The vehicle sustained heavy damage and was deemed a total loss. State Farm alleged that the cause of the fire was faulty wiring in the dash panel
State Farm's theory was that the wiring harness was allowed to chafe against a metal bracket in the center of the dashboard, and that, as a result, electrical arcing occurred between exposed harness wires and the metal bracket.
The defense argued that the vehicle was too badly damaged for anyone to identify a cause of the fire; that there was no evidence to support plaintiff's chafing theory; and that no history of problems with the routing of wiring harnesses in this make and model of vehicle exists.
The defense also argued that a loose wiring harness would have caused a loud rattling in the dash panel but that there were no reported complaints of such rattling.
The jury deliberated approximately 3.5 hours before returning a verdict in favor of the defense.