Recall Letters


Action initiated by Mrs. P, administrator of Mr. P's estate, for wrongful death of P allegedly caused by Dbilt Truck Company's negligence in the design, testing, and manufacture of the truck that P was driving when he died. The complaint also contains a count in strict liability based on Dbilt Truck Company's failure to give P timely warning as to the unsafe condition of the suspension system of the truck. Sixteen weeks after the accident, Mrs. P received the following letter, addressed to her deceased husband, from Dbilt Truck Company:

This letter is sent to you pursuant to the requirement of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. The rear suspension of your Dbilt truck/tractor ... may contain a potentially hazardous condition.

We have discovered that the combination of spring misalignment, improper maintenance, and pressure imbalance can cause overstressing of one spring resulting in a premature spring failure that can seriously affect vehicle control. You should make a simple visual inspection at once and have broken springs replaced immediately (at no charge). Regardless of the condition of these springs, federal law requires that an authorized Dbilt distributor perform certain adjustments and modifications to prevent the development of a hazardous condition.

We apologize for the inconvenience this will cause you, but the seriousness of this situation cannot be overstated. We urge you to contact any authorized Dbilt distributor and make your vehicle available for this rework at the earliest possible time.

Dbilt Truck Company objects to the introduction of the recall letter on the grounds of hearsay and prejudice, pointing out that the recall campaign was instituted under the compulsion of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, 15 U.S.C. 1401 et seq. What ruling and why?

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