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VERNA v. U.S. SUZUKI MOTOR CORP.

May 18, 1989

JOHN E. VERNA, an Incompetent, by his Father and Guardian, GEORGE J. VERNA, and JOHN E. VERNA, in his own right, and JOYCE VERNA, Parent of JOHN E. VERNA
v.
U.S. SUZUKI MOTOR CORPORATION and SIMPSON MARINE SAFETY EQUIPMENT, INC., Debtor in Possession d/b/a SIMPSON SPORTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BECHTLE

 LOUIS C. BECHTLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE:

 Presently before the court is defendants' motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. For the reasons stated herein, defendants' motion will be granted.

 I. FACTS

 On August 23, 1985, at or about 6:15 P.M., John Verna was operating his 1986 Suzuki Intruder motorcycle in the right-hand southbound lane of Sproul Road in Marple Township, Pennsylvania, when it collided with a 1985 Chevrolet Cavalier station wagon, driven by Mary C. Lawrence. At the time of the accident, Ms. Lawrence was in the process of making a left-hand turn onto westbound Paxon Hollow Road from the left-turning lane of northbound Sproul Road. The collision occurred at the intersection of Sproul and Paxon Hollow Roads while both parties were apparently proceeding through a yellow traffic signal. See Deposition of Linda Gillin, at 13, lines 3-24, Exhibit K to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. John Verna was thrown from his motorcycle upon impact and sustained permanent brain damage, rendering him an incompetent.

 On August 24, 1987, George Verna, as representative of John Verna, both citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, filed suit against U.S. Suzuki Motor Corporation ("U.S. Suzuki"), a California corporation, in the Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania. *fn1" U.S. Suzuki was the American distributor of Suzuki motorcycles for Suzuki Motor Company, Ltd., *fn2" a Japanese corporation, and shipped the 1986 Intruder to Cycle City II, where it was purchased by John Verna on May 14, 1985. The complaint alleges causes of action in negligence, breach of warranties, and strict products liability for failure to warn plaintiff of the inconspicuous nature of motorcycles during daylight hours and for failure to include a modulating headlamp as part of the motorcycle's safety features, thereby making the motorcycle defective and unreasonably dangerous. On February 1, 1988, the case was removed to this court based on diversity of citizenship.

 II. DISCUSSION

 A. Summary Judgment Standard

 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) instructs a court to enter summary judgment when the record reveals that "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." The function of a motion for summary judgment is to avoid a useless trial in cases where it is unnecessary and would only cause delay and expense. Goodman v. Mead Johnson & Co., 534 F.2d 566, 573 (3d Cir. 1976), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 1038, 50 L. Ed. 2d 748, 97 S. Ct. 732 (1977).

 In considering a motion for summary judgment, the court must determine whether the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, show there is no genuine issue of material fact, and whether the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Chipollini v. Spencer Gifts, Inc., 814 F.2d 893, 896 (3d Cir. 1987) (en banc), cert. denied, 483 U.S. 1052, 108 S. Ct. 26, 97 L. Ed. 2d 815 (1988); Arnold Pontiac-GMC, Inc. v. General Motors Corp., 786 F.2d 564, 568 (3d Cir. 1986).

 B. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations

 The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA") is the agency created by Congress to implement the National Traffic Safety Act of 1966, 15 U.S.C. § 1381 et seq., (the "Act"), and is charged with promulgating safety regulations thereunder. 49 C.F.R. § 501. Pursuant to this authority, the NHTSA had issued Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 108 ("FMVSS 108"), entitled "Lamps, Reflective Devices and Associated Equipment." As of the date of sale of the motorcycle in question, it stated:

 
§ 4.6 When activated:
 
(a) turn signal lamps, hazard warning signal lamps, and school bus warning ...

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