Posts Tagged ‘wrongful death’

Defective Seat Belt

February 28, 2008

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.


Ford Wins

January 19, 2008

Ford won a products liability lawsuit in Henry County, Alabama on Tuesday, January 15, 2008.  The case arose from an accident which occurred in 2000 wherein a 28 year old woman, Pamela Jackson Davis, was thrown from the Ford Expedition.  According to the complaint, Ms. Jackson’s estate alleged that the seat belt and the glass were defective, and had they not been, Ms. Jackson would have survived the crash.  Ford, however, argued that she was not wearing her seat belt and that the glass was not defective.

Apparently, the jury agreed with Ford.  The attorney for Ford, Harlan Prater of the Birmingham law firm Lightfoot Franklin White, LLC, expressed sympathy for the family of Ms. Davis; however, he was glad to see the jury saw that the Ford Expedition was a good, safe vehicle.

This case is another example of juries getting it right.  When the jury rules in favor of the defendant, you don’t hear plaintiff attorneys complaining.  They know that their clients were given a fair shot at proving their case, and a jury of their peers made a decision.  When that happens, they live with the jury’s decision.  Why do businesses, corporations, insurance companies, etc. always say the jury got it wrong when they lose?  Some might call this being a sore loser.  I think, however, that these entities just don’t like it when twelve people rule that they did something careless, reckless, and wrong, and even worse, they cannot stand to lose money.  Follow the dollar.