The Orlando Sentinel has reported that in West Palm Beach, Florida, a jury has awarded a family $11 million due to the ejection of their 25 year old son from a 2000 Mitsubishi Montero SUV. Scott Laliberte was ejected out of the rear window even though he was belted on the passenger side. According to the family, the seat belt in the Montero SUV was defective.
What really led to the verdict was the fact that Mitsubishi released a new version of the vehicle halfway through the 2000 model year to correct the seat belt flaws. Unfortunately for purchasers prior to the new release, Mitsubishi did not tell them of the problems. As a result, people such as Scott Laliberte were not protected from the defect. According to the article, “Mitsubishi’s reputation has been battered by a scandal about the systematic cover-up of auto defects that resulted in massive recalls. The scandal surfaced in 2000, when the company acknowledged it had hidden defects for decades, secretly repairing them without proper recalls despite reports of dozens of accidents.”
Why do we have civil lawsuits and juries? We have them so that companies understand that if they do not do the proper thing, they will suffer the financial consequences. Unless juries render awards such as this $11 million, the rest of the country will not hear about it, and other automotive manufacturers will not hear about it. When they hear about these awards, they will hopefully change their ways.