Nissan Motor Co. must pay the $1.85 million in damages a jury awarded to a woman involved in a three-vehicle collision. Rebecca Perdue filed a product liability lawsuit against Nissan in December 2007, in a Texas State Court. Ms. Perdue was driving her 1995 Nissan Pathfinder when a vehicle that had collided with another vehicle then struck her Nissan. She was properly wearing her seatbelt at the time of the accident, but was injured when the Nissan failed to protect her. Ms. Perdue alleged that the Pathfinder was “not reasonably crashworthy” and was “unreasonably dangerous and defective,” as demonstrated through its “poor crash test performance, stiff crash pulse, performance in real world crashes, and high death rate.”
Nissan failed to provide an adequate restraint design or an advanced restraint system necessary for vehicles with rigid and stiff structures to achieve “ride-down,” which is the “reduction in restraint loading and risk of occupant injury.” Nissan has been involved in the development of advanced restraints systems for decades but decided not to include an advanced restraint design in Ms. Perdue’s 1995 Pathfinder.
It was alleged in the suit that “to eliminate the consequences of the dangerously stiff and rigid vehicle, an airbag and/or other advanced safety restraint must be used because the restraint system is incomplete and ineffective without such features.” Nissan had investigated the use of front-end structure modification to improve the crashworthiness of its vehicles, but did not incorporate an appropriate design to the vehicle at issue. If her 1995 Nissan Pathfinder had contained a properly designed advanced restraint system including an airbag, Ms. Perdue says she would not have been injured in the three-car collision.
After a four-day trial, the jury agreed with the Plaintiff, awarded $1.85 million in damages, and found that there were no responsible third parties. After U.S. District Judge Leonard Davis entered a final judgment on the jury verdict, Nissan filed a motion for new trial or alternatively for judgment as a matter of law. Nissan argued that the jury verdict was against the “great weight of the evidence.” The Defendant also requested a new trial arguing that the court improperly commented on evidence and that the Plaintiffs’ lawyers made improper jury arguments. The Court denied Nissan’s requests, stating that the Defendant failed to challenge the sufficiency of evidence during the trial and failed to reference any legal authority supporting its claims.
In the denied request, Nissan argued that the jury should have apportioned a percentage of damage upon a third responsible party, the drivers of the two other vehicles involved in the collision. Judge Davis wrote that the jury was properly asked whether Perdue’s injuries were caused by the negligence of others and the jury found the actions of others did not cause the Plaintiff’s injuries. Todd Tracy of the Tracy Firm in Dallas was the lead lawyer for Ms. Perdue and did a very good job.
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.