The California Court of Appeals has ruled that Land Rover is strictly liable for severe spinal injuries suffered by a driver when his sports utility vehicle rolled over. The Appellate Court’s ruling affirms a $22 million jury verdict. A driver travelling 75 mph collided with the rear of the Plaintiff’s 1998 Discovery as he was travelling 65 mph down a California freeway. In the collision, the Plaintiff’s Discovery was forced into another vehicle. The chain reaction caused the Discovery to roll over several times before coming to a stop on its roof, which was crushed.
The Plaintiff suffered severe spinal injuries in the crash which left him quadriplegic. He filed his lawsuit against Land Rover, alleging that the Discovery was defectively designed because of its narrow track width. In addition, the Plaintiff alleged that the vehicle’s roof could have been strengthened with minimal production cost. Land Rover contended on appeal that it could not be liable under the “risk-benefit” test, but the Court disagreed, explaining that the Plaintiff:
established that the … Discovery would tip under evasive steering maneuvers and that slight modifications to the track width and center of gravity of the vehicle dramatically improved its rollover resistance. Similarly, modest enhancement of the roof support of the … Discovery yielded substantial gains in roof strength.
The Court said that the Plaintiff’s evidence “was more than sufficient to establish the Discovery’s design presented an ‘excessive preventable danger’ and that ‘the benefits of the … design’ did not ‘outweigh the risk of danger inherent in such design.’” This was a most significant ruling.
Source: Lawyers USA Online
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