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ARTICLE ID 6618

CONFIDENTIAL General Motors allegedly installs defective air bag system - Delay in deployment - Factual dispute over whether driver was wearing seat belt - Tear in aorta of right coronary ostlum - Blood accumulates in pericardial sac - Wrongful death.

Los Angeles County, California

This action arose out of a fatal automobile accident involving a ________ Chevrolet Baretta which was being operated by the 17-year- old male decedent when he allegedly became momentarily distracted, causing the car to veer and jump a curb. The decedent lost control of the vehicle, which left the roadway and struck a freeway fence and post.

The subject accident occurred on August 10, ________, as the plaintiff’s decedent was driving in his ________ Chevrolet Baretta with two companions. The evidence indicated that moments prior to the collision, the decedent and his passengers had been distracted by a young woman in another car. The decedent, traveling at approximately 30 to 35 miles per hour, attempted to enter the Santa Monica freeway via an on-ramp at La Brea Avenue, but due to a miscalculation, jumped the curb and drove off the road, striking a freeway fence and post. The decedent and his two passengers walked away from the vehicle without apparent injuries. However, during the accident sequence, the decedent’s air bag deployed and struck him in the chest, causing a tear in the aorta. He was transported shortly after the accident to Kaiser Hospital emergency room where he died.

The plaintiff alleged that GM’s air bag and its components failed the consumer expectation test. The plaintiff maintained that the decedent was wearing his lap belt and shoulder harness and that even if he were not, it would not have functioned properly, since there was candy wedged in the retractor assembly. The plaintiff’s experts were prepared to testify that there was a ________ millisecond delay in the deployment of the airbag in the accident sequence, as recorded in the DERM. The plaintiff alleged that the proximity of the decedent’s chest to the steering wheel, the failure of the shoulder harness and the ________ millisecond delay combined to cause the decedent to receive a more forceful blow from the air bag than should have occurred, resulting in his injury and death. The plaintiff’s experts were prepared to explain that cotton fibers embedded in the airbag and air bag fibers embedded in the decedent’s shirt, as well as the physical injury, established the proximity of the decedent to the steering wheel at the time of deployment.

The plaintiff claimed non-economic damages only, seeking loss of love, society, comfort, moral support and affection. The decedent was raised by his mother in Missouri up to his high school years, p 7 3 following which he lived with his father in California.

The defendant denied liability and maintained that the subject air bag system and air bag were properly designed. The defendant maintained that the decedent caused his own fatal injury by failing to wear his seat belt and shoulder harness. The defendant contended that the accident was a moderate to severe crash and that the impulse of the crash was slow, i.e., the vehicle on impact with the freeway post rode up and over the post and that there was no delay in the airbag deployment.

The plaintiff’s initial settlement demand was $________. The defendant’s initial offer is confidential. The case settled for a confidential sum.

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