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$8,400,000 VERDICT - MOTOR VEHICLE NEGLIGENCE - AUTO REPAIR NEGLIGENCE - PLAINTIFF'S REPAIRED VEHICLE STALLED AND WAS STRUCK IN THE REAR BY THE DEFENDANT'S VEHICLE AT 65 MILES PER HOUR - BRAIN INJURY

County
Moltnomah County, Oregon

In this motor vehicle and auto repair negligence matter, the plaintiff contended that the defendant auto repair facility negligently repaired her vehicle causing it to stall on the highway, where she was rear-ended by the second defendant at 65 miles per hour. The force of the impact caused the plaintiff to sustain severe brain injury. The defendant auto repair facility denied negligence for the incident.

The 21-year-old female plaintiff's vehicle was taken to the defendant auto repair shop's facility two times for repairs due to the vehicle stalling. After the second repair, the plaintiff traveled 5,500 miles over four and 1/2 months before her vehicle stalled on the freeway. When the vehicle stalled in freeway traffic, the vehicle was struck in the rear by the defendant driver's vehicle which was traveling 65 miles per hour. The force of the impact caused the plaintiff to sustain severe and permanent brain injury. She is no longer able to work or go to school.

The plaintiff brought suit against the auto repair facility alleging negligence in its repair of her vehicle. The plaintiff brought suit against the driver who struck her vehicle for negligence in the operation of his vehicle.

The defendant auto repair facility denied negligence and claimed that the vehicle stalled due to a broken timing belt and not as a result of faulty repairs. The defendants disputed the nature and extent of the plaintiff's injuries and blamed each other for liability.

At the conclusion of the eight day trial, the jury deliberated for one day before finding in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendants. The jury awarded the total sum of $8,400,000 consisting of $4,400,000 in economic damages and $4,000,000 in non-economic damages.

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Reference
Plaintiff's vehicle forensics expert: J.P. Teets from Portland, OR. Plaintiff's engineering expert: Shawn Ray Case from Portland, OR.

Delashmutt vs. Moore and Pearson's Specialized Automotive; Judge Richard Baldwin, 5-05.

Attorney for plaintiff: Curtis Kinsley of Kinsley & Chaudoin in Portland, OR.

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Commentary
The jury determined that Moore, the driver who struck the plaintiff's vehicle in the rear, was 2/3 liable for the plaintiff's injuries. The jury determined that the defendant auto repair shop was 1/3 liable for the plaintiff's injuries. The plaintiff, a 21-year-old college student on her way home from school, has been left almost lifeless by this accident. She is confined to a nursing home, being fed through a tube and suffering from incontinence, double vision and short term memory loss. Her prognosis is grim; it is anticipated she will require 24-hour a day care for the remainder of her life.

The question of the liability of the auto repair facility was hotly contested. This defendant argued that the vehicle, which it admits having repaired, was driven for approximately 5,000 miles without any operating difficulties prior to the incident. The plaintiff disagreed and maintained that the vehicle continued to have intermittent problems during this period, although the plaintiff could not provide witness testimony to corroborate those allegations. The plaintiff contended that the defendant's argument that the broken timing belt was the cause of the collision was invalid. The plaintiff argued that the timing belt broke as a result of the force of the impact. The defendant contended that it had, but was unable to present, witness testimony that such a scenario was improbable. The defendant maintained that it felt that the jury's verdict as to its liability in excess of $3,000,000 was erroneous and intended to appeal.


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