Three years after TLC’s Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes was killed in a one-car crash while vacationing in Honduras, the late rapper’s mother, Wanda Lopes-Colemon, has filed a lawsuit against Mitsubishi, claiming the automaker failed to warn consumers that its Montero sport utility vehicle was rollover susceptible.
Lopes died in 2002, when the 2001 Montero she was driving tipped over; according to police, a fatal blow to the head killed the singer instantly (see “Lisa ’Left Eye’ Lopes Killed in Car Accident” ).
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the lawsuit — which names the Japanese automaker as well as its North American subsidiary — claims Lopes was driving at a normal speed and swerved to avoid a car that stopped in front of her, causing her SUV to flip. Lopes-Colemon’s attorney, Jeff Harris, told the newspaper he will use a study on vehicle rollovers to reinforce his claim that Mitsubishi should have warned consumers about the Montero’s potentially fatal design flaw.
In 2001, Consumer Reports gave the Montero Limited a “not acceptable” safety rating after testing the SUV and six others using sharp turns at moderate speeds; only the Mitsubishi appeared vulnerable to rollovers.
There were about a dozen passengers in the SUV at the time of the accident; all except Lopes survived. Some of the passengers, including T’Melle Rawlings, have filed suit against Lopes’ estate, blaming the performer for their injuries. Rawlings — a member of Philadelphia hip-hop act Egypt — almost lost her leg, according to her lawyer, Harry Levin. She has undergone several surgeries since the crash, and still suffers from pain and a limp, Levin told the Journal-Constitution.
Rawlings and Lopes-Colemon’s suits were both filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta; the latter, last week. Mitsubishi’s attorney, Frank Faison Middleton IV, has filed a response to Lopes-Coleman’s suit, denying any wrongdoing on the part of the automobile manufacturer.
Neither Lopes-Coleman’s nor Rawlings’ suit specifies any monetary damages being sought, but according to Levin, his client’s is “a multimillion-dollar lawsuit — no question.”
For a look back on Lisa Lopes’ career, check out the feature, “Lisa ’Left Eye’ Lopes: One Of A Kind.”
For complete coverage on the Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes tragedy, see Remembering Left Eye: The Lisa Lopes Reports.