Deadly Propensity by Tim McDermott (Mar 28, 2013)
Michael Culhane is a successful products liability defense lawyer with a high-powered law firm in South Florida. With a beautiful wife, great kids and a waterfront home, he has it made. Or so he did, until internal politics at his law firm and at Global Motors Corporation, his long-time motor vehicle manufacturing client, get him fired from his firm and from further Global work. Forced to hang out a shingle as a sole practitioner, he struggles financially, causing both professional and personal stress and problems.
Michael is asked to take on a case against Global involving its recently-released and hugely-profitable flagship ‘Mesa’ SUV model. It is a risky contingent fee case that he knows he shouldn’t accept. But, he is pressed to take the case by his close family friend, Eric Hawkins, whose wife was killed and infant son horribly burned in a violent one-vehicle rollover accident that occurred while his wife was driving their Mesa. To Eric’s anger and disbelief, the police pin the cause of the accident squarely on ‘driver error,’ blaming speeding and severe over-steering on his dead wife.
Despite the unlikelihood of success battling Global, Michael’s loyalty to Eric prevails. He hopes to prove Eric’s insistent belief that the Mesa has an inherent stability design defect that caused his wife’s death and the disfigurement of his son.
The suit puts Michael in the fight of his life, waging a fierce battle against the ruthless Global Motors while also defending against an ethics grievance filed by Global that seeks to dis-bar him. The battle enmity increases when Global is defended by Michael’s Rambo-like ex-litigation partner who was instrumental in getting him fired. Michael’s ‘cost-effective’ experts and shoe-string budget are little match for Global’s vast financial resources and its stable of polished experts, not to mention the devastatingly persuasive results of the stability testing Global has conducted which refute his client’s claim.
The trial judge presiding over the trial, a staunchly conservative, triple-chinned jurist with strong, pro-manufacturer philosophical leanings, doesn’t make his job any easier. Not by a long shot. And that’s exactly what a victory by Michael entails as discovery proceeds and trial unfolds – a very long shot.
Enjoy the ride as ‘Deadly Propensity’ races towards its jury verdict.