Texas Supreme Court Agrees With Shook's Amici Curiae Brief; Deems Seat-Belt Use Admissible


The Supreme Court of Texas in Nabors Well Services, Ltd. v. Romero overturned its 1974 ruling that evidence of a plaintiff’s failure to wear a seat belt is inadmissible.  The court agreed with the amici curiae brief filed by Victor Schwartz and Phil Goldberg on behalf of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber Litigation Center. The court mirrored the amici brief’s rationale in reasoning why a defendant should be able to introduce evidence in automobile-related injury cases that a plaintiff was not wearing a seat belt when relevant to the plaintiff’s injuries. Fact finders can then consider seat belt use as one factor when apportioning responsibility for the injuries alleged. This new rule applies in all car accident cases, including claims against manufacturers for design and warning defects.