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Deposition 1 - deposition of witness in products liability case - Part 4
Q. You mentioned suspension system. Have you told me everything that you would look at with regard to the suspension system to try to rule in or rule out whether or not a loss of control would occur to the vehicle that could account for or be a cause of a crash?
A. Well, we have gone through all the photographs that I have taken and that I have referred to, and I have given you my best explanation that I can right now to show you why the suspension wasn't involved.
A. So that's the job I have done here. Another vehicle, another accident, there might be more or less to determine.
Q. Are there other aspects to this suspension system that you haven't talked to me about?
A. No. We haven't discussed very long, but the other link and we just went by it, but there is a track bar in this suspension that controls the lateral movement of the axle.
Q. And where is that located?
A. That's across car. It's attached to the left frame and it's attached to the right side of the axle.
Q. And was that intact at the time of your evaluation of this vehicle?
Q. Has it intact at the time of the collision?
Q. And how do you know that?
A. Because the vehicle had not exhibited any problems by virtue of what the driver defined in his vehicle.
Q. Would sudden failure of the track bar result in loss of control in the manner described?
Q. Could it?
A. Yeah. Yeah. Lots of thing could cause it.
Q. And you've never had any opportunity to look at or evaluate the track bar because it doesn't exist anymore. Is that correct?
A. I did not see the track bar. I didn't look real hard for it. I looked at the attachment on the frame, which was still there, and there's a photograph in the photographs showing the track bar, and it shows it's not deformed.
Q. You have a photograph of the track bar?
A. Do I have a photograph? There are photographs in the file material I have. I have not taken a photograph.
Q. Are you saying the track bar is present and in the condition it was at the time immediately following the occurrence?
Q. Can you show me where that's displayed.
A. Where's Kelsey's stack? Yes, it's Exhibit S in Deposition 10.
MR. HENDERSON: Deposition Exhibit 10 to Kelsey's deposition.
Q. May I see that, please.
A. I'm not sure. It may have been referred to as a drag link by Mr. Kelsey, but I'm not sure because I wasn't there for his deposition. But he used the term “drag link.”
Q. And you say that is the track ??
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Is that -- that's just -- that's a piece of equipment laying on the ground.
Q. Did you see it when you made your inspection?
Q. Do you even know whether this is associated with this vehicle, what's displayed in S?
A. I can only tell you it's a Dodge track bar. I can't tell you that it belongs to that vehicle or anything, sir.
Q. And you have no way of telling whether it's in the same condition now as it was at the time immediately following the occurrence. Is that correct?
A. No, but it looks normal.
Q. Well, has it been severed from its normal connections?
A. It's been unbolted. It's been disconnected.
Q. So you would not be able to evaluate the condition of that part or that product as it existed at or immediately after the time of the collision. Is that correct?
A. No. I can make conclusions based on that photograph. ?? I have to assume that it was on that truck if we're going to relate it to this accident. If you take that out of the equation, then I can't make that determination.
Q. Well, do you have any evidence before you, any testimony, anything linking the part with the vehicle in question, any documentation showing when that part was removed, who removed it, under what circumstances?
A. No. We've talked about that. The answer is no.
Q. Do you have any indication of how much of that product was deformed or altered in the process of removing it?
A. Yeah. The Hulk couldn't take it off, so nobody would hurt that part. It's a pretty substantial bar. Nobody hurt it taking it off.
Q. Do you know what method was used to remove it from its original location?
Q. And you would agree with me that there's been no fatigue analysis done of what's ever left of this part, assuming that's the part displayed in Picture S. Correct?
A. No fatigue in that part. It's whole. The part's not broken.
Q. Does it show whether it's been broken at one end or the other?
A. No. It shows that it's been detached at both ends.
Q. Does it show how the detachment occurred?
A. It appears to be unbolted. You would normally take it off with a wrench. Whether it's an air wrench or -- it wasn't cut off with a cutting torch.
Q. Could it have broken off?
A. No, does not appear to be broken off.
Q. And that opinion is solely from this Picture S. Correct?
A. That's the only picture -- well, there may be another picture in there, but I knew -- I was pretty sure there was one in Mr. Kelsey's.
Q. Okay. And then other than the track bar, have we now talked about all those things involved with analyzing the suspension?
A. No. We've got springs involved in the suspension.
Q. Okay. If one or more -- if a spring failed, would that account for loss of control of the vehicle similar to what was described in this case or could it?
A. Very possibly, but it shouldn't.
Q. Okay. Did you have a chance to evaluate the springs in this case?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Were they all located with the vehicle in their original condition and position?
Q. Were they located even with the vehicle?
A. They were in the back seat area of the vehicle, the front springs were. The rear were attached.
Q. Is there any way of knowing that the springs that you observed located in the back seat of this junk car were the springs associated with this vehicle?
Q. Is there any way for you to know when they were taken off or who took them off, assuming they were associated with the vehicle?
Q. Are there only four springs on this vehicle?
Q. How many springs are there?
A. Probably hundreds.
Q. Okay. Did you look at all of those?
Q. Which of the springs that you would look at would be the ones that would help assist you in determining whether or not the loss of control of this vehicle occurred?
A. The four suspension springs.
Q. And so there were two springs you identify as suspension springs located in the back seat of this cannibalized vehicle. Correct?
MR. HENDERSON: I would just have a continuing objection to use of the term “cannibalized.”
A. There were two coil springs in the back of the cab. I photographed them. I show you the part numbers on the springs. They are still there. There were two leaf springs on the rear suspension still attached to the vehicle. I don't know anything about them other than that's what I saw when I was at the vehicle.
I know that the four springs are in the vehicle following the accident, again, assuming that these photos are of the subject truck, because all four springs are still on the vehicle following the collision when these pictures are taken.
Q. How do you know that -- these pictures being the ones from January of '98?
A. No. This picture -- I'm not sure of the origin on this picture, but I know it's relatively close to the accident. But it shows the left front spring in the picture still in the vehicle, although out of position, which is consistent with the collision.
A. And it shows the rest of the vehicle in normal car position indicating the springs are in place. The car would not look like that if the springs were out.
Q. Well, you would agree, would you not, that the photograph you're looking at, and I will tell you that -- strike that.
What you're looking at here shows a displaced spring. Correct?
Q. You didn't -- you would have to go and evaluate that spring and look at it to determine whether or not it failed as a result of the collision or it failed precedent to the collision; isn't that true?
A. Your question assumes a failed spring, and I don't see a failed spring.
Q. I'm asking, don't you have to do an analysis to determine which came first, whether it failed as a result of the collision or it failed as an antecedent to the collision?
A. I didn't see any failed springs in this case.
Q. Did you do any examination of the spring as it was located in the vehicle at or shortly after the time of the accident?
A. No. I told you they were in the back of the vehicle.
Q. Assuming those were the ones. Correct?
A. That's the springs I examined, yes. They were fine.
Q. But to do an analysis of what happened at the time would require you to analyze the vehicle as it existed at or shortly after the time of the collision; isn't that correct?
A. No. That picture tells you all you need to know about springs. Springs didn't break.
Q. Well, what is it that you would see in the picture that I'm looking at that would show if the spring was damaged prior to the accident that's not shown here?
A. You'd see a broken spring, and you'd see two pieces of spring. That appears to be a whole spring.
Q. Well, would others that look at this picture have differing conclusions?
A. Well, again, do we have to discuss that? Certainly we know they do, but knowledgeable people, no, would not.
Q. Could the spring -- how does the spring -- how would this spring have become detached from its mounting without breaking?
A. The spring is basically held in place by its seats and its loading in the vehicle. It's not captivated, per se. It isn't bolted on the ends like a leaf spring. It's held in place by virtue of the suspension components keeping the axle in place and keeping the axle moving in its designed intent.
Q. So, in other words --
A. Fact of the spring being in place is also another nail in the coffin, if you will, to say that there wasn't anything wrong with the suspension because the spring is there following the collision.
But now that we've knocked the axle back and taken the wheel back into the cowl area, the bottom part of that spring, which set on top of the axle, has moved back probably a foot or 15 inches, and it's pulled it out of its upper spring seat, and you're looking at the top of the spring.
And we do know, following the accident and looking at the remains today, aga..., assuming it's the proper truck, that there's nothing wrong with where it was sitting at the top.
Q. The spring would have to be properly seated to stay in its location. Is that correct?
A. I would have to be in the vicinity of the spring seat. It might make noise and might give you a different trim height if it's not properly seated, but it's going to stay in there. It's pretty well-located. There's a big cone section that holds that spring to locate it.
Q. If the spring is improperly seated, could it fail?
Q. Okay. The only way to determine whether or not it was properly seated would be to look at the vehicle at or shortly after the time of the occurrence.
A. No. You talk to the operator about the vehicle, how it was operating, and if it was improperly seated, it would exhibit -- generally it would exhibit a noise.
Q. Not always. Correct?
A. It would exhibit some problem if it wasn't properly seated.
Q. Okay. Is there anything else about the suspension system that you can tell me that you would look at other than what you've discussed with me?
A. Your questions leave me out on the limb.
Q. No. I'm just wondering, we went down this idea, you said different control systems and --
A. Let me ask you this. Did I talk to you about the rear suspension?
Q. You said that, and I said we would come back to that, but other than that, we haven't discussed that.
A. Your question just said suspension systems. Again, you went back to the whole car. That's the problem I have. You get to one spot and you open up the whole world, and then you want to come back again. So I'm trying to stay with you.
Q. I'm just not very bright. So I'm just struggling to do this.
A. Well, I understand this car completely, so I'm trying to be as best help I can for you.
Q. I appreciate that. Has there anything else in the suspension system?
Q. What else?
A. The rear suspension exhibits today the fact that it was all intact and didn't have any problems.
Q. What is it about your observations that allow you to conclude that the rear suspension was all intact at the time of the collision?
A. Well, the rear springs are attached at their front and rear attachments properly today, and the center bolt is located in both springs, which indicates that the axle was tightly fastened to the spring.
Q. The axle's gone?
Q. Do you have any idea of what was moved or removed in the process of taking the axle out?
A. The U-bolts were taken off.
Q. Did you see that done?
Q. Did you see how they removed the axle?
Q. In removing the axle, can they damage or alter the springs or their center bolts?
A. They could if they were careless.
Q. There's no way for you to determine or say that those weren't damaged in some fashion during removal of the axle?
A. Yes. They're not damaged.
Q. Do you know they're the same springs and center bolts that came with the equipment originally?
Q. How do you know that?
A. As a practical matter, yes.
Q. No, I understand --
A. Because I know what's involved to take these things apart, and I know how junk yards operate and I know, as a practical matter, nobody is going to take them apart and put a new center bolt in there. Has I there to watch them? No.
A. But have I worked on springs? Yes.
Q. Okay. And you have no way of saying that somebody has not altered or tampered with those springs before you observed them. Is that correct?
A. No, that's not correct. I'm telling you, as a practical matter, I've got enough mechanical experience to know that they weren't altered. Nobody took those springs off and put them back on. Those are the springs that were on ?? vehicle from day one. What surprised me is they weren't taken off and sold, because they're fine.
Q. Yeah. And you're assuming that nobody would have tampered or removed them or replaced them with something else. Is that correct?
A. I'm using my engineering and mechanical judgment to tell you that that didn't happen.
A. But I wasn't there.
Q. Okay. Can you say that they are in the same condition today as at the time of the occurrence?
Q. And you cannot say that their connection point to the axle or the rest of the body of the vehicle is in the same condition or position it was at the time of the occurrence. Correct?
Q. Was that correct?
A. That's correct.
Q. All right. You mentioned acceleration. What about the acceleration system would you look at?
A. Well, we were talking about general accident investigation, and several cases that I have looked at there has been unwanted acceleration claims made, and if it's -- I'm just doing an accident review where I don't know anything about the claims, I review all the control systems and I check the throttle control and the accelerator control, if I can, to see if it stuck or if it's working properly.
Q. Okay. Were you able to check the throttle control or accelerator control in this case?
A. No, sir.
Q. Was anybody? Did anybody ever do that, to your knowledge?
A. No. I don't know anything anywhere along in this thing there was ever a complaint of it, but, no, I don't know that.
Q. Well, I don't know whether there was a complaint or not. I'm just merely asking if the system was evaluated for some type of defect that might have been a cause of the collision.
A. Well, the accelerator control wasn't a cause of this collision. If you get back to this accident, the accelerator control has nothing to do with this accident.
Q. Okay. Why would that be?
A. Well, because we're running at what the operator says he was running. He doesn't say that the vehicle ran away with him and he couldn't control the vehicle. He just said that the vehicle went over to the left and he -- well, I don't know.
He kind of vacillates, depending on the records that he talks about, but there's no comment about, you know, that I had problems with the throttle, I couldn't stop the car. There's just nothing to indicate -- there's no indication that this vehicle's wheels were spinning.
If the vehicle's wheels were spinning, he would have had difficulty making any correction to the vehicle and, again, we're in slippery weather, which, again, I don't know, I wasn't there, but I would assume, if it's operating at four-wheel drive, then I've got to gingerly operate on the throttle because the only reason I've got it in four-wheel drive is because I spin easily with my rear wheels if I'm only in two-wheel drive. There's no other reason to run the four-wheel drive.
Q. Okay. The throttle control or acceleration control in this vehicle could never be examined at this point in time. Is that correct?
A. That's correct.
Q. That's because it's been removed and destroyed or removed. Is that correct?
A. You know, I didn't even look to see if the throttle was still in the car, as far as the accelerator pedal. Obviously the engine is gone and so is the -- I don't know if this is throttle body or direct fuel injection. At least the air valve was gone with the engine. So you couldn't evaluate the engine end, and I don't remember the throttle cable being in there.
Q. Okay. And what about -- was there anything else about the acceleration system other than the throttle control or acceleration control?
A. Well, again, we observed the condition of those. Might look at the pedals. I have seen bent accelerator pedals because the operator had their foot on, they said the brake, but it was on the accelerator pedal on accelerator claims.
Q. Okay. Then you mentioned steering. What else about the steering system did you look at?
A. I think we covered the steering, didn't we?
Q. No, I don't think so. I might be ?? but --
A. Well, again, to cover the steering, assuming that it's all there and we can look at it, I would look and verify the fact that all the components are attached. I would probably turn the steering wheel to see, depending on the amount of crush and the particular damage, to see which wheels were turning and which ones were not turning.
Q. Anything else?
A. Again, in a general inspection, assuming everything is there and I'm the first one on the accident scene and I've got the opportunity to look at the pristine vehicle, we've pretty much covered everything that goes on.
Q. Okay. What components would you look at on the steering?
A. Essentially, if I'm able to, I would turn the steering wheel and see if the wheels turn. If that happens, that's generally it. So I'm looking for continuity in the steering system. If I don't find continuity in the steering system, then I go in and find out, if I can, why I don't have continuity.
Q. What would cause lack of continuity?
A. A broken part, a disconnected part.
Q. What type of part? Which parts?
A. Steering wheel could come off the steering shaft. Steering shaft could come off the intermediate shaft. If we're talking about a Dodge, this has an intermediate. It's a front steer vehicle. Steering shaft could come off the steering gear. Steering gear could break. The Pitman arm could come off of the Pitman shaft of the steering gear. The linkage could disconnect from the steering gear.
In this instance, it's a pretty simple linkage, it's Just a two-rod -- you have a right tie rod and a left tie rod.
Q. Okay. None of those -- first off, nobody turned the wheel, the steering wheel in this case to determine if there was continuity in the wheels, to your knowledge, did they?
A. I don't know. This hypothetical that we just went through rarely happens.
Q. I understand. It can happen, can it not?
A. Oh, yeah. I've been there, you know, in some instances because particularly GM has been there based on the report of the accident. I've also been brought in by police departments to evaluate vehicles where the operator is trying to claim a problem with the car, and they want somebody early on.
Q. They want somebody --
A. I've had that several times.
Q. Excuse me. They want somebody to come in early on to evaluate?
A. Evaluate the vehicle and to see if there's criminal charges available or whether there's a vehicle defect.
Q. And it's important to evaluate the vehicle early on from the collision because that's when you're going to find the condition of the product as close to what it was at the time of the occurrence. Correct?
A. That's the optimum.
A. That's always the best.
A. Like having one through ten and having all the numbers. But if you've got one through ten and one of them's missing, it's pretty easy to figure out there was a sequence, and you can tell which number is missing. That's why people like me have a Job; because the hypothetical theoretical thing that you're talking about never really happens.
Q. Did anybody, to your knowledge, turn the steering wheel to see if there was continuity in the wheels as you described it in this case?
A. The driver.
Q. When did he do that?
A. Just before he hit the building.
Q. Okay. Your assumption is that he voluntarily turned the wheel before he hit the building. Correct?
Q. Well, you're trying to state an opinion that he did that.
A. I'm stating he did it. I don't know if he did it voluntarily, subconsciously or whatever. All I'm telling you is the vehicle had steer and the vehicle responded to steer. I don't know the condition of the driver. He could have been asleep and done it in his sleep.
Q. Could the response to steer be mimicked by striking some object that would divert the vehicle?
A. In this particular circumstance, no; in some instances, yes.
Q. And so it would be important to catalog or inventory what's present at the accident site at or near the time of the occurrence. Correct?
Q. And, in this case, it would have been advisable to meet with the police officer even after the occurrence and while it was still fresh in his recollection, go out and review what was present, what he observed. Correct?
A. Again, if we take all accidents and all situations in the perfect situation, yeah, we like to do that.
Q. There was no evaluation of whether or nor there was a broken part in some part of the steering mechanism, was there?
Q. What was evaluated?
A. I did that,
Q. What did you evaluate?
A. I evaluated all the facts of this accident and the condition of the vehicle.
Q. What did you look at? What parts did you look at to evaluate the parts of the steering mechanism?
A. I looked at the photos of the vehicle that were supplied by you. I looked at the actual vehicle. And I've studied the path of the vehicle and looked at the police report, and I've heard the description of what the driver said he was doing, and with all those things, you can put the puzzle back together. There'?? enough information there.
Q. Okay. Show me what photos you looked at that you say that you evaluated the condition of any parts of the steering system.
A. Those I didn't mark. Me got the building damage, and I need the police report.
MR. HENDERSON: Police report is probably in the black binder.
(Discussion off the record.)
BY MR. CARTER:
Q. So did you find some information that would support your statement that the -- you observed or your observations included observing the steering mechanism?
A. Yes. Basically it's based on the police report, which has the eyewitness statement on it. It also includes the deposition of the driver. And then the best description I have is the letter I wrote to Mr. Henderson on the 15th of May. It's pretty well detailed in there.
Q. So the police report, which includes the officer's recitation of what the eyewitness observed.
Q. And that the, quote, Witness said he was following Unit Ho. 1 when it drove into a building. Witness said he saw no brake lights, and it appeared there was no control loss on the vehicle, unquote.
Q. What is significant about that to you?
A. The vehicle is not making any significant steer lane changes. It is all gradual. It's being driven in. If there had been a sudden steer input by virtue of a separation in the steering system, the vehicle would have veered sharply. Hot only would the path have been different, but the eyewitness would have seen a vehicle do a veer to the left, assuming that's obviously the direction the malfunction would have to cake it.
There's nothing that's going to cause just the vehicle to be driven into a vehicle or appear to be driven into a vehicle and have a manufacturing defect contribute to that.
MR. HENDERSON: Into a building. You said “vehicle driven into a vehicle.” Do you mean --
A. Oh, I'm sorry. Into a building.
Q. Did the police officer indicate that the -- his description was reflective of someone not gradually drifting off one way or another?
A. Again, I don't recall -- I think we have the police officer's deposition, and I don't recall the content of it, but there was nothing outstanding in there ?? indicated anything other than what the police report indicated.
A. As I recall, he was -- all his testimony was derive on refreshment from the police report, because I ?? he said he didn't recall it. But don't hold me to that. It's been awhile since I looked at that.
Q. Okay. So it would be the fact that the police offi?? clearly doesn't say in the police report that he suddenly veered that you say that that helps you sa?? there wasn't a steering problem. Correct?
A. You know, all -- the totality of all these inputs are what get you there. The vehicle, the police report, the eyewitness, the accident scene, the description of the vehicle path, the actual vehicle path.
A. It isn't any one item; it's the combination and that's why -- those are the pieces of the puzzle that allow you to get the complete picture.
Q. Let's talk about the pieces of the puzzle. Let's talk first about the accident scene. Where is your information about the accident scene?
A. I have a photo of the building, and I have the police officer's description of Washington Street --
Q. What is it --
A. -- And the direction that he's traveling.
Q. What is it about the police -- so, again, we're back to the police report. Are you saying this statement, quote, Driver No. 1 said he was northbound on Washington when his truck drove into the building --
Q. -- Driver 1 said his truck was in four-wheel drive and he was traveling about 35 mph?
Q. Okay. What does that tell you about the accident scene?
A. Well, number one, it typically tells me, based on all the police, reports I've listened -- or reviewed over the years and talked to policemen, as we've had policemen testify in litigation, if there's a vehicle problem, and even if there isn't a vehicle problem, the operator comes out stating there's a vehicle problem. In the first place, he didn't do that here.
Q. Okay. I guess all he said was his truck drove into the building. Is that normal operation of a motor vehicle to drive into a building, in your experience?
A. If the driver is inattentive, it happens frequently, yes.
Q. If a driver is attentive to what he's doing, is it normal for a truck to drive into a building?
Q. Okay. So assuming he was attentive, that would imply that there was a problem with the vehicle, would it not?
Q. Oh, okay. What else besides the police report gives you -- are you able to say that you've evaluated the steering mechanism and find no failure in it?
A. It's through a careful detailed analysis of the vehicle and the vehicle photos, and like I said, it's best described in that memo to -- it involves several photos, many of which we've already covered and I've given you the individual things. But that letter kind of puts it together to show why there had to be steering.
Q. Well, that's your May letter. May 15, 2003.
Q. Where in that letter do you point out that you did any examination of any of the components of the steering system?
A. I didn't examine the components of the steering system.
A. At the time there weren't any. The steering system existed on the vehicle following the accident, and it obviously has been disassembled and parts have been whatever. I don't know if they were sold, thrown away or whatever.
Q. No way to evaluate the steering system to determine whether or not there was some type of defect inherent or present in the steering system that might or could account for this vehicle's action. Is that correct?
MR. HENDERSON: Objection, asked and answered.
Q. What do you mean no?
A. You do it based on the evidence you have, and I've told you the best I can why that steering system was intact and working.
Q. I understand.
A. And I've told you what would be if we had assumed some of the defects had occurred that you want to assume that are in there, and none of those facts fit the situation.
Q. Sir, was there any analysis done of anything having to do with the steering system of any of the component parts of that at any time prior to your testimony today?
Q. Okay. And --
A. Mr. Kelsey didn't do an adequate one either.
Q. Would you agree with me that there were no components available for evaluation for quite a long time. looking back in time from todays date?
MR. HENDERSON: Components of the steering system is what you're asking?
MR. CARTER: Correct.
A. The physical components I have not seen and, to my knowledge, they haven't been available for a while.
Q. And the engine and transmission were removed from this product. Is that right?
A. Appear to be, yes.
Q. And, when they were removed, the steering components would have been damaged or altered. Is that right?
Q. They would not?.
A. It would be altered but they wouldn't be damaged.
Q. They'd be altered?
A. Yeah. Well, you can see the ones that are damaged because they've been cut with a cutting torch but --
Q. The steering system now I'm asking. What is it about --
A. The steering gearbox appeared to have been unbolted from the frame rail, and it was probably a salvageable item, although I don't think there's any record of it being sold. It has obviously been removed. It wasn't cut off with a cutting torch.
Q. You have no idea when this steering gearbox was removed?
A. I do not.
Q. It would have been -- if someone had been able to look at and evaluate the steering gearbox at or shortly after the time of the occurrence in question, they could have ruled out any failure in one or more of the components of that gearbox. Is that correct?
A. Yeah. It depends on the --
Q. That's all.
A. -- Where you want to go. if we just had a mechanic, he could come through and tell you this is the way the part is made and this part is normal. This is a gearbox that appears to work right.
Q. Well --
A. But to evaluate an accident and so forth, you know, that's why we do our things special. We know that things are not going to be always there, and most of the time from my standpoint they weren't always there; many times they were altered by people.
Q. Would you agree with me that it's been General Motors' position in litigation that even minor alteration to steering components result in undue prejudice to General Motors in its ability to evaluate product liability cases? This is based on your experience, sir.
A. Based on my experience, I can't agree with that because I've testified in many steering cases where the stuff was altered and thrown away.
Q. And you've testified what?
A. Testified that this steering system still functioned properly based on all the rest of the circumstances that we're dealing with.
Q. Has General Motors ever taken a contrary position, to your knowledge or understanding?
A. I don't understand your question.
Q. Has General Motors ever taken a position, whether you were on the case or otherwise, if you're aware of, that's contrary to what you just said?
MR. HENDERSON: I don't think he understands what you mean by what he just said. He said that the -- his opinion in those cases were that the steering was working properly. I think you're asking him whether he knows whether GM ever took the position that the destruction of evidence harmed General Motors.
MR. CARTER: Okay. I'll live with that question.
THE WITNESS: Yes, they have taken that position. I know that.
BY MR. CARTER:
Q. And have you done so on their behalf?
A. I have been involved in the analysis and in adding to why it is necessary or not necessary.
Q. And what were the circumstances where -- that you're aware of where General Motors did that?
A. It was in claims where General Motors was trying to evolve on the fact that somebody had deliberately destroyed the evidence or changed the evidence, particularly after the lawsuit was generated, but I can also tell you, in my experience, in most of the cases the Court overruled, and we went ahead and had to go and proceed anyway.
But one specific case I can tell you is in New York where we were dealing with a Corvette where we couldn't see the total condition of the steering arm that he had in his hands, that he proceeded to cut and destroyed and then throw apart -- throw away some of the parts. We still proceedeo anyway because the Court didn't buy the spoliation of evidence situation.
And that's obviously when you're in litigation and you throw something away, that's one thing. Where you've just got a general claim and you don't know what the claim is, it's a horse of a different color.
Q. So the position of General Motors in the case you just referred to was that the partial destruction of a steering column resulted in prejudice to General Motors such that they would be unable to establish whether or not a defect existed.
A. It wasn't a steering column. I can't remember if it was the tie rod or if it was a relay rod. It was in the steering system; it was not in the column.
Q. In any event, it was some alteration that had occurred to the product after the event in question. Is that correct?
Q. And in that circumstance or in other similar circumstances, have there been occasions where such an alteration resulted in loss of the part in question or complete destruction of the part in question?
Q. And in those circumstances, was it your experience that General Motors took the position that such failure or loss precluded them from being able to adequately defend themselves because they could not reasonably determine whether or not a defect existed?
A. Yes, there were those circumstances where the lawyers took that position.
Q. And you were part of the group of witnesses that helped address that issue on behalf of General Motors?
A. I would help address the issue, but I would be -- if I was involved in helping them address that issue, I would also be the one that would follow it through and, if the Court denied the motion, then we proceeded to trial.
Q. And was your testimony in your experience permitted because the material was in some fashion destroyed?
A. No. I was permitted to testify because of my expertise.
Q. Where in your report of May 15, 2003, do you specifically refer to any evaluation or examination of any of the components of the steering system?
A. We've covered that.product liability page for more information.