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State Supreme Court reverses ruling in case involving destroyed evidence

The Utah Supreme Court has reversed a lower court's ruling dismissing a lawsuit against Ford Motor Co. stemming from a 1992 injury accident.

In a unanimous decision Oct. 17, the justices remanded the case for further proceedings. They emphasized they were ruling only on whether Ford's motion for summary judgment was properly granted - not the trial court's findings of fact.On June 13, 1992, Michael Aaron Drysdale was driving his 1980 Ford Pinto south on I-15 near Beaver when a tire blew and the car rolled. Drysdale was severely injured.

The car was towed to a nearby service station and later destroyed during Drysdale's hospital stay - according to Drysdale, without his knowledge or consent.

Drysdale filed suit against several parties and claimed products liability, breach of implied warranty and negligence against Ford. The auto company moved for summary judgment, arguing that without the car itself as evidence, Drysdale could not prove - and Ford could not disprove - the allegations.

Drysdale appealed, noting that the destruction of the car was not willful on his part, and that the court's dismissal of his suit was an abuse of discretion. Further, he argued that design defects he alleged would be evident on any 1980 Pinto.

The high court ruled litigants are allowed to present their cases fully to the court.