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Philadelphia County, PA

The seat belted plaintiff was driving his ________ Acura Integra on his way to work in May of ________, when an embedded nail in the right rear tire caused a tire blow-out. The vehicle subsequently traveled off-road and rolled over twice. The plaintiff claimed that, during the 30 mph rollover, the seat belt failed to keep him in his seat, and he struck his head on the roof, resulting in quadriplegia. The plaintiff and his wife sued Honda Motor Co., which manufactured the Integra, alleging that the driver’s seat belt was defective, in that it failed to adequately restrain the plaintiff during the rollover. Theories of liability against the defendant were also premised on a failure to warn. The defendant denied that the seat belt system was dangerous or defective.

The plaintiff, 52 years-old at the time, sustained a facet dislocation at C6-C7 causing permanent quadriplegia. He now uses a motorized wheelchair and requires assistance with most daily living activities. His future life-care costs were estimated at about $________. A glazier before the incident earning $15 per hour, the plaintiff now claimed permanent disability. At the time of trial he was cared for primarily by his wife and daughter.

The plaintiff contended that, when the defendant was designing the Acura Integra in ________, it conducted a dynamic 30 mph rollover test to evaluate the restraint system. This test involved a seat belted crash test dummy in the driver’s seat, and during the test, the dummy struck its head on the roof, according to the plaintiff’s evidence. The plaintiff argued that the defendant made no modifications to the restraint system, despite seeing the head strike.

The plaintiff’s expert testified that the vehicle-mounted seat belt system used in the Integra was defective, and caused the plaintiff to move in excess of eight inches vertically, and strike the roof with his head during the low-speed rollover.

The alternative design, which was an all-belts-to-seat system with a cinching latchplate, would have limited the plaintiff’s movement to 3.6 inches, and would have prevented him from contacting the roof, according to the plaintiff’s expert.

The defendant argued that the seat belt in the Acura was not defective, was commonly used, and that the alternative design would not have prevented the plaintiff from striking his head on the roof.The jury found that the Acura seat belt system was defectively designed. It also found that Honda failed to warn of the defect. The plaintiffs were awarded $________ in damages.

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