A jury in New Jersey has awarded $4.2 Million to the Plaintiff in a defective roof lawsuit. Larry Clanton had been driving to meet friends at the Jersey Shore in July 2006 when a 73-pound runaway tire bounced toward his car. The tire, which had fallen off a pickup truck headed in the opposite direction, bounced onto the roof of Clanton’s Nissan Altima, cracking the roof. Clanton’s head was pushed forward by the roof, fracturing his neck as his chin pressed into his chest.
It was contended in the lawsuit that the roof’s header panel was defective in that it was improperly attached to the rest of the roof’s structure. Nissan denied the Plaintiff’s allegations of defective roof design. The 52-year-old Clanton, who survived the accident, suffered debilitating injuries. He has taught himself to walk again at Jersey City Medical Center and at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange.
Clanton now walks a mile a day and does exercises to keep his muscles from contracting. He suffers constant spasms, including prolonged shaking every morning when he wakes up. His fingers are now curled, which prevents him from playing sports or doing simple things with his hands. It was contended by the plaintiff that his injuries could have been prevented if the header, which forms the front of the roof, had been affixed to the sides of the roof’s steel skeleton. It was proved by experts for the Plaintiff that the header panel is usually attached to the side rails of the roof. In this design, it was not.
Clanton settled with the driver of the pickup truck, whose wheel hit him, for the driver’s policy limits of $500,000. The judgment against Nissan will be reduced by 15 percent, to reflect the amount of fault the jury allocated to the pickup driver. It was proved at trial that Nissan had not done a single test to test the roof design to see how it would perform before the automaker started mass marketing it. The same roof design was used by Nissan in all Altima models made in 2002 through 2006. Cynthia A. Walters, a lawyer with Budd Larner, represented the plaintiff. She did a very good job for him. The firm has offices in New Jersey and New York.
Source: The Star Ledger
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