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U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida (Fort Myers Division)

This product liability action was brought against the manufacturer of a ________ Mercedes-Benz by the 75-year-old male plaintiff. The plaintiff claimed that the car was defective in that its driver’s side airbag did not deploy when the car was struck in the driver’s side. The defendant denied that the car was defective and maintained that the airbag was not designed to deploy because the collision was not of the type requiring deployment. The defendant also denied that deployment of the airbag would have prevented the plaintiff’s injury.

On November 16, ________, the plaintiff was driving his ________ S420 Mercedes in Naples when a Dodge Durango struck the Mercedes on the driver’s side. The plaintiff’s accident reconstruction expert testified that the accident occurred at a speed of approximately 25 miles per hour. Although the Mercedes was equipped with a driver’s door airbag, the airbag did not deploy upon impact. The plaintiff’s expert opined that the force of the impact should have caused the airbag to deploy.

The driver’s door window shattered during impact. The plaintiff contended that as a result of the airbag not deploying, the plaintiff’s left arm was contacted by the intruding Durango and traumatically amputated just below the shoulder. The plaintiff’s biomechanics expert opined that had the airbag deployed, it would have prevented contact by the Durango with the plaintiff’s arm and no serious injury would have occurred.

The plaintiff was retired at the time of the accident and did not make a claim for economic damages. His wife of 54 years asserted a claim for loss of consortium. The plaintiff’s wife contended that she assisted the plaintiff in daily activities and acted, in essence, as his missing hand.

The defendants argued that the airbag was not designed to deploy in this accident. Evidence showed that the Durango impacted the driver’s side of the plaintiff’s Mercedes covering an area just behind the left front wheel to the left rear wheel. The defendants further argued that had the airbag deployed, it would not have prevented contact of the plaintiff’s arm by the intruding Durango.

The jury found the vehicle defective and awarded the plaintiff a total of $________, comprised of $________ to the plaintiff and $________ to his wife for her loss of consortium claim. The case is currently on appeal.

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