A jury has awarded $14.9 million to Marcia Gray in a lawsuit arising out of a 2012 motor vehicle crash in Oakland, Calif. The seat in her 1995 Mazda Protege collapsed in the crash, causing Ms. Gray to suffer severe permanent injuries. Responsibility was assigned by the jury to both Mazda and the driver who crashed into Ms. Gray.
Ms. Gray was driving alone on an Interstate highway when she braked suddenly to avoid a wreck in front of her. A Chevrolet pickup truck then rear-ended her, and her seat flew backward. The truck that hit her car crushed the seat back as it went back. This caused Ms. Gray to fold over. She had 13 crushed ribs, a fractured vertebra that left her partially paraplegic, and a brain injury. Ms. Gray now has limited movement and walks with the aid of a cane.
A gear mechanism on the left of the driver’s side was designed to collapse the seat backward in a wreck in order to absorb the energy from a crash. Ms. Gray was put in more danger during the crash because it was the seat back that caused most of her injuries. Mazda knew about seat problems through crash testing in 1995, according to testimony during the trial, but the company continued with the same design through 1998. There were never any recalls of the design. However, Mazda claimed it changed its designs many times since 1995.
The jury in the verdict found Mazda 55 percent responsible and the driver who rear-ended Ms. Gray 45 percent responsible. Ms. Gray is represented by David L. Winnett, a lawyer with the Veen Firm, located in San Francisco, Calif. He did a very good job for Ms. Gray.
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