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How the hell would this even be taken up by the court? I would love to see the legal precedent.

I am guessing that it could be one of several things that would allow it to pass legal muster:

1) The plaintiff may be trying to collect from the defendant's insurance company since it was the defendant's vehicle that caused the death.
2) The owner of the Jeep was perhaps an employee of the dealership and knew the technician did not have a driver's license or know how to drive a stick.
3) The defendant modified the Jeep
4) The lawyer is trying to force a settlement with the dealer knowing that the defendant will turn around and sue the dealer should any judgement go against him or her.

Either way, it is scary to think that something like this can happen. "Come into our dealer for our oil change special- and spend tens of thousands of dollars defending yourself for something we did." It does make the dealer look pretty damn bad.
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