Underride guard strict liability win upheld on appeal!

A verdict that upholds the Underride Network recommendations that rear guards to withstand extreme forces in offset impacts must extend to the edges of the truck and be braced with 45 degree angled braces. Angled braces have been tested successfully at the Impact Project in Brazil and at the MUARC Test Center in Australia. See below:

Ponder’s expert report pointed to two key deficiencies in Ox Bodies’ guard design: first, “[a]pproximately the outside 16 inches on each side of the rear of the [Ox Bodies] truck is left without any underride guarding at all,” and second, “the guard is not sufficiently braced against impacts” because “[t]he outside span of the horizontal member is a beam supported at an interior location, but unsupported at the end,” such that part of the guard “would begin to fail at a load of approximately 7,000 lbs.” He further opined that “[t]he frontal collision safety features in [Maribel’s] Jeep Liberty were rendered ineffective because the … truck lacked a substantially constructed underride guard.”

Ponder’s report went on to conclude that “[t]here exist feasible safer alternative rear impact guard designs for” the truck involved here. He noted a number of published studies that “offer completed truck underride guard designs.” He outlined a design suited for the instant truck, “consist[ing] of a horizontal member positioned at the or very close to the rear extremity of the vehicle, long enough to protect the entire width of the truck,” and “[d]iagonal bracing … placed at the truck bed’s interior longitudinal members and side longitudinal members at a 45 degree angle along with a vertical support to complete the truss at the side extremities.”

Download the complete strict liability verdict below:


José Luis Ubarri, with whom David W. Román and Ubarri &
Roman Law Office were on brief, for appellants.