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ARTICLE ID 29186

$________ INCLUDING $________ PUNITIVE AWARD - PRODUCT LIABILITY - DEFECTIVE DESIGN - LATCH ON FOLD DOWN BACK SEAT OF LINCOLN LS FAILED DURING ACCIDENT CAUSING THE INFANT PLAINTIFF TO SUFFER A CATASTROPHIC SPINAL CORD INJURY - PARAPLEGIA.

Fulton County, Georgia

The infant plaintiff was crushed when the latch on the seat failed during a collision. The plaintiff is paralyzed from the neck down as a result of the injury sustained. The defendant denied that there was any design defect.

On June 15, ________, the six-year-old minor plaintiff was riding in the rear center seat of her mother’s ________ Lincoln LS motor vehicle. The rear seats in that vehicle were equipped with special latches which permitted the seats to be folded down to provide extra cargo space through the trunk. The vehicle was involved in a frontal collision and the infant’s rear seat collapsed down on top of her. As a result of the collapse, her seat back struck her in the back and pinned her between her seat belt and the seat back. She suffered fractures to her spine at T2-T3 which paralyzed her from the neck down. The infant was nine years old at the time this matter went to trial and required daily care on a round-the-clock basis.

The plaintiff, through her mother, sued the manufacturer, Ford Motor Company alleging a defective product design in that the rear seat latch did not latch properly. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant knew or should have known about the defective latch and its propensity to allow the seat back to collapse during an impact. The plaintiff also sought punitive damages because she maintained that the defendant was aware of this defect as early as ________ and failed to take appropriate action to correct the design defect and retrofit the seat latches.

The defendant Ford admitted that there were minor problems with the seat latch in a small percentage of the ________ models manufactured, however it denied that the plaintiff’s vehicle was one of those with a defect. In addition, Ford attempted to contend that the infant plaintiff was actually seated in the front seat of the vehicle and that her injuries were caused by the deployment of the airbag.

The jury returned its verdict in the amount of $________ in compensatory damages and $________ in punitive damages against Ford Motor Company.

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