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ARTICLE ID 43323

$________ DURING TRIAL Defective and dangerous design - Failure of vehicle to be equipped with shoulder harness center rear seat belt - Center rear seat passenger is rendered paraplegic.

Los Angeles County, California

The 17-year-old female plaintiff passenger in an automobile was rendered a paraplegic when the center rear seat belt, which did not have a shoulder harness, failed to properly restrain her during a collision.

The plaintiff was a rear seat passenger in a ________ compact motor vehicle. The driver of the vehicle, also 17 years old, stated that he was "testing out" his new vehicle to see how it handled at high speed on windy mountain roads. The vehicle in which the plaintiff was seated collided head-on at a high speed with another vehicle. The plaintiff was restrained in the center rear seat by a lap belt only. As a result of the high speed collision and the severity of the impact, the plaintiff was "jack-knifed" over her seat belt, suffering a spinal fracture that rendered her a paraplegic.

The plaintiff brought suit on a product liability theory against the manufacturer of the vehicle alleging that the design of the center rear seatbelt was deficient and dangerous and failed to adequately protect the plaintiff. The plaintiff alleged that the vehicle should have been equipped with a shoulder harness rear center seatbelt that would have adequately protected the plaintiff in this type of collision.

The defendant denied the plaintiff’s allegations that the vehicle was defectively designed. The defendant also denied that it was the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. The defendant maintained that the plaintiff’s injuries were caused by the driver’s aggravated negligence in driving recklessly at a high rate of speed on a winding mountain road. The defendant argued that no restraint system is adequate to protect a passenger against severe frontal impacts such as the one that occurred in this incident. The defendant also disputed the nature and extent of the plaintiff’s alleged injuries.

The matter settled during the course of the trial for the sum of $________.

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