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ARTICLE ID 48433

$________ CONFIDENTIAL - PRODUCT LIABILITY - DEFECTIVE DESIGN - MOTOR VEHICLE NEGLIGENCE - ROLLOVER COLLISION - WRONGFUL DEATH - THREE OCCUPANTS INJURED AND FOUR OCCUPANTS EJECTED AND KILLED DURING ROLLOVER RESULTING FROM LOSS OF CONTROL OF MINIVAN.

California

This was a product liability motor vehicle negligence action in which the plaintiffs alleged the decedents were killed and injuries sustained to remaining passengers as a result of the defective design of sliding side door and seat belts. The plaintiff alleged the driver was negligent in failing to drive the vehicle under control at a reasonable rate of speed. The defendants deny the allegations of negligence.

The decedents and plaintiffs were passengers in a minivan driven by the defendant driver traveling northbound on Interstate 15 near the California/Nevada border. The defendant driver was operating the vehicle at approximately 70 miles per hour when the driver lost control. The vehicle rolled over three times causing four of the seven occupants to be ejected from the vehicle and killed. The remaining occupants were injured in the collision.

The plaintiffs brought suit against the defendant driver alleging that he was negligent in the operation of the vehicle, causing the vehicle to lose control and rollover causing the deaths and injuries suffered. The plaintiffs also contended that the defendant manufacturer of the minivan was negligent in failing to properly design the seatbelts and side door of the van as well as having tempered glass. The plaintiff contended that all of the four passengers ejected had been seat belted. Their restrains utilized pendulum sensors which spooled out between eight and sixteen inches during the incident, causing them to be ejected from the vehicle. The three remaining occupants who were not ejected had a different seatbelt mechanism that did not include a pendulum sensor.

In addition, the plaintiffs contended that the sliding side door on the minivan detached causing an exit portal through which two of the occupants were ejected from the vehicle. The plaintiffs alleged that the side door was defective in that it had only a rear latch and not a front latch.

Further, the plaintiff alleged that the tempered glass broke during the incident which provided yet another exit portal for the other two occupants who were ejected. The plaintiffs argued that while not a defect, the glass should have been laminated glass which would have better prevented a glass break.

The defendant driver alleged that the vehicle was cut off suddenly by a semi-tractor trailer and the defendant driver took evasive action to avoid colliding into the truck.

The defendant auto manufacturer contended that the defendant driver fell asleep at the wheel. The defendant argued that a rollover accident at 70 miles per hour with three rolls is considered a violent accident and the defendant argued it was impossible to guarantee safety of occupants in such an accident.

Further, the defendant manufacturer denied that there was any defect in the door latch on the sliding side door. The defendant argued that the design is the same as that used by all other manufacturers. The defendant argued that the minivan rolled over a boulder which struck the roof rail / C pillar of the vehicle and broke the door latch causing it to open. Further the defendant contended that only one occupant was ejected from the vehicle through the side door, not two occupants as alleged by the plaintiff.

The defendant denied the plaintiffs’ arguments regarding the use of laminated glass over tempered glass. The defendant maintained that there has been no evidence of any clear benefits of one type of glass over the other.

As to the restraints, the defendant manufacturer argued that the occupants were all out of position, being either reclined or asleep at the time and their restraints were not defective, but rather were improperly being used resulting in the slack which caused them to be ejected from their restraints. Further the defendant argued that the additional slack in the restraints came as a result of the deformity of the roof during the rollover and not as a result of any defect in the manufacturer of the belts.

The parties agreed to a settlement of $________ total after 28 days of trial.

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