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Palm Beach County, Florida

This action was brought against the American distributor of Mercedes-Benz vehicles by the plaintiff parents, individually, and as the natural guardians of their minor daughter, age six at the time in question. The plaintiffs claimed that the defendant distributed the ________ Mercedes 300E sedan with a dangerously defective rear center seat restraint system which was comprised of a lap belt and no shoulder belt. The plaintiff also contended that the defendant failed to address the dangers of using only the lap restraint in the owners manual provided with the vehicle.

The minor plaintiff was a passenger in the rear center seat and was using the lap belt when the vehicle was involved in a head-on collision with another car. The girl sustained injuries resulting in permanent paraplegia as a result of the accident. The defendant maintained that the ________ Mercedes 300E sedan exceeded all required motor vehicle safety standards and its restraint system was not defective and did not cause the injuries suffered by the minor plaintiff.

The plaintiffs were driving their ________ Mercedes-Benz in San Juan Puerto Rico, where they resided, on September 9, ________. The vehicle, which included two front seats and a rear bench seat accommodating three had been leased in Florida. The minor plaintiff was seated in the rear center seat which was equipped with a lap only seatbelt. The car was involved in a head-on collision with another vehicle. Evidence showed that closing speeds in excess of 90 mph were involved in the collision. The plaintiff parents contended that they had placed their daughter in the center seat because they felt that it was the safest seat p 7 3 for her and because the available outboard lap/shoulder belt cut across her face and neck. The plaintiffs alleged that they were unaware of the dangers of using a lap only belt and that the defendant failed to address the issue in the owners manual provided.

Evidence showed that the minor plaintiff sustained severe abdominal injuries and a spinal cord injury at the T12-L1 level.

Although the spinal cord injury was surgically repaired and the plaintiff has use of her arms, she is permanently paralyzed from the waist down and will require living assistance for the remainder of her life, according to the plaintiff’s medical experts. The plaintiff claimed past medical expenses of $________.

The plaintiff’s biomechanical engineer opined that use of the lap belt by the minor plaintiff actually caused the devastating injuries sustained by her.

The defendant argued that the vehicle complied with and exceeded every motor vehicle safety standard in the world. No vehicle in the world had a rear center seat shoulder belt in ________, according to defense arguments. The defendant also argued that statistics show that lap belted rear seat occupants are as safe as those in shoulder belts. The defendant’s biomechanical expert opined that the minor plaintiff’s injuries were the result of a major impact caused by a speeding, reckless driver who crossed into the plaintiff’s lane of travel.

The case settled prior to trial for $________.

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