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ARTICLE ID 28434

$________ - PRODUCTS LIABILITY - ALLEGED UNCRASHWORTHY FORD F-________ PICK-UP TRUCK - EXCESSIVE ROOF CRUSH DURING ROLL-OVER ACCIDENT - INTRUSION OF ROOF INTO PASSENGER COMPARTMENT - PARAPLEGIC INJURY SUFFERED BY UNBELTED PASSENGER.

Los Angeles County, California

This products liability action arose out of an intersection collision caused by the negligence of the driver of an automobile who ran the red light controlling his direction of travel and collided with the Ford F-________ pick-up truck in which the 28-year- old male plaintiff was riding as a passenger. While conceding that the accident was caused by the negligence of the automobile operator, the plaintiff contended that the severe and permanent injuries he suffered in the accident were directly attributable to the F-________ pick-up’s uncrashworthy design, which allegedly allowed excessive roof crush during the foreseeable roll-over accident.

The subject accident occurred on December 25, ________, at Palmdale Boulevard and Sierra Highway in Lancaster, Ca. The plaintiff was riding as a passenger in the ________ Ford F-________ pick-up truck, which was traveling at 35-40 mph when it was struck by an automobile which started up against a red light and contacted the F-________ at an approximate speed of 15 mph.

The evidence demonstrated that the F-________ pick-up had been modified with a lift kit and large (36 inch) tires. The plaintiff contended that a combination of factors, including the raised center of gravity, the operator’s evasive maneuvering and striking a six inch curb caused the F-________ to roll over two or three times. The plaintiff, who was not wearing his available seat belt, was partially ejected through the rear window of the F-________. He suffered a fracture of the spine at T-8 and was rendered paraplegic. The driver of the F-________ was wearing a seat belt and was not injured.

The plaintiff admitted that the negligence of the driver who ran the red light was the sole cause of the accident, but not of the plaintiff’s paraplegic injury. The plaintiff claimed that the F- ________ pick-up was not crashworthy since its roof crushed excessively during a foreseeable roll over accident, permitting excessive intrusion of the roof into the passenger compartment. The plaintiff additionally claimed that the defendant Ford Motor Company was negligent in failing to properly test the roof structure to lessen the risk of such injury.

The defendant agreed that the driver who ran the red light was the sole cause of the accident, but disputed the plaintiff’s claim that the F-________ pick-up was uncrashworthy. The defendant maintained that the plaintiff’s failure to wear his seat belt was the major cause of his injury, with the negligence of the non- host driver being the secondary cause.

The defendant contended that the roll over accident was so severe that no vehicle in existence could have withstood the impact forces which occurred better than the F-________ pick-up truck had. The defendant asserted that the plaintiff was subject to the forces of gravity during the roll over and dove into the roof while the vehicle was upside down. The defendant maintained that the possibility of catastrophic injury is always present in a roll over accident and that it is impossible to completely eliminate.

The defendant took the position that the ________ F-________ pick-up truck was not subject to any governmental regulations regarding minimum roof strength. Even so, according to the defendant’s claims, the F-________ far exceeded all government regulations that were later enacted. The defendant’s experts maintained that the F-________’s roof strength was greater than virtually all other roofs in this class of vehicle available for purchase even in ________.

The plaintiff suffered T-8 paraplegia as a result of the accident.

At the time, he was working as a laborer’s helper, earning $________ to $________ per year. At the time of trial, the plaintiff was working as a self-employed professional bass fishing guide and tournament fisherman. The plaintiff conceded that with luck, he will earn more pursuing this occupation than he did prior to the accident.

The parties stipulated to past medical specials of $________. The plaintiff claimed future medicals of $________, $________ past lost wages and $________ future lost wages. The defendant disputed the plaintiff’s estimated future medicals and contended that costs of such should be $________. The defendant additionally claimed that the plaintiff suffered no future lost wages as his earnings potential as a consultant is greater than it would have been had he remained in the construction field.

The jury found for the plaintiff and returned a verdict of $________.

With interest, the judgment totaled $________.

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