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Haslam Announces $185M Expansion of Spring Hill GM Complex

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; August 27, 2014:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty along with General Motors officials announced today the company will invest $185 million to make small gas engines at its Spring Hill manufacturing complex. GM also identified the next-generation Cadillac SRX as a future mid-size vehicle to be produced at Spring Hill.

“We want to congratulate GM on this important investment in its future in Spring Hill and Middle Tennessee,” Haslam said. “Today’s announcement speaks volumes around the country and world about our state’s business-friendly climate and strengths in automotive manufacturing, bringing us another step closer to our goal of making Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

“Today’s announcement demonstrates how globally competitive Tennessee is in automotive production and underscores the tremendous momentum our state possesses in the automotive sector,” Hagerty said. “The quality craftsmanship and artisan strength of our workforce has proven time and again that Tennessee is the best place to invest and grow.”

The investment supports GM’s new small displacement engine, which is part of an all-new Ecotec engine family that will be used by five GM brands in 27 models by the 2017 model year, powering many of the company’s high-volume small car and compact-crossover vehicles.

Spring Hill is among six manufacturing locations around the globe that will produce the new engine, and an additional $48.4 million investment is planned for the Bedford, Indiana powertrain castings plant.

“The new Ecotec engine family represents the most advanced and efficient small displacement gasoline engines in GM’s history,” Arvin Jones, GM North America manufacturing manager, said. “It was a good business decision to produce this powertrain in Spring Hill and Bedford. Both teams have strong performance records, especially in quality.”

The new Ecotec portfolio includes 11 engines with three- and four-cylinder variants ranging from 1.0L to 1.5L – including turbocharged versions – and power ratings ranging from 75 horsepower (56 kW) to 165 horsepower (123 kW), and torque ranging from 70 lb-ft (95 Nm) to 184 lb-ft (250 Nm).

GM Spring Hill currently manufactures the award-winning Ecotec 2.0L turbocharged direct injection 4-cylinder engine, the Ecotec 2.4L direct injection 4-cylinder engine and Ecotec 2.5L direct injection engine, which powers the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu and Chevrolet Impala.

The naming of the Cadillac SRX program follows GM’s previously announced $350 million investment in Spring Hill for two future mid-size vehicles expected to create or retain approximately 1,800 jobs.

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TN Supreme Court Reinstates Jury-Awarded Damages Against Car Manufacturer

Press release from the Tennessee Courts System; August 30, 2013:

The Tennessee Supreme Court has reinstated a Shelby County jury’s verdict awarding damages for the injuries a six-year-old boy sustained in a car wreck.

In January of 2002, Billy Meals was riding with his father and grandfather in his grandfather’s car. Billy was in the backseat restrained with a lap belt, while the shoulder belt was tucked behind his body because it did not fit properly. Another vehicle driven at a high rate of speed and operated by a person under the influence of alcohol and cocaine struck the Meals vehicle head on.

Billy’s father and grandfather were killed. Billy survived, but sustained serious and life-changing injuries when his lap belt was propelled into his stomach, damaging his spine and internal organs. Billy became paralyzed from the waist down and could no longer perform basic functions of daily living without substantial assistance and accommodation. He required extensive medical care, including numerous surgeries and physical therapy and continues to experience medical difficulties as a result of the injuries he sustained in the wreck. It is expected he will face complications throughout the rest of his life.

In 2003, Billy’s mother filed suit on his behalf against several defendants, including the maker of his grandfather’s car, Ford Motor Company, alleging that the defective design of the seatbelt and Ford’s failure to warn of the danger caused Billy’s permanent paralysis and other injuries. The jury heard proof that Billy’s past and future medical bills and lost wages were calculated to be $4.3 million; that Billy will never walk again; and that he will suffer the effects of his injuries for the rest of his life.

A Shelby County jury returned a verdict of $43.8 million in damages, finding Ford to be 15 percent at fault, liable for $6,570,000 of the total. Ford appealed, and the Court of Appeals suggested reducing the total verdict amount from $43.8 million to $12.9 million, which would have reduced Ford’s responsibility to $1,935,000. The Court of Appeals concluded that the jury’s award of non-economic damages of $39.5 million showed sympathy and was excessive.

In a unanimous opinion, the Tennessee Supreme Court held today that the Court of Appeals applied incorrect reasoning when it concluded that the jury’s verdict was excessive. The Court engaged in its own review of the proof and concluded that the jury’s verdict was supported by evidence and was within the range of reasonableness. The Court explained that an appellate court’s review of a jury’s verdict is limited to determining whether there is material evidence to support the verdict. If there is any such evidence, the appellate court must affirm the verdict.

Accordingly, the Tennessee Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals and reinstated the jury’s verdict requiring Ford to pay $6,570,000 in damages.

Read the unanimous Opinion in Aundrey Meals ex rel. William Meals v. Ford Motor Company, authored by Justice Sharon G. Lee.