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CONFIDENTIAL Automotive products liability - Defective driver's seat in ________ Honda Civic - Fracture of metal bracket securing seat upon impact - Seat propels forward - Driver suffers severe head injury.

Los Angeles County, California

This action arose out of an automobile accident involving a 25- year-old female plaintiff, who was operating her ________ Honda Civic when she lost control of the vehicle in bad weather conditions. The Honda hydroplaned across the roadway into oncoming traffic, spun around and was hit in the rear by another vehicle. During the course of the accident, the car’s driver seat broke loose and the plaintiff, who was wearing her seatbelt, sustained a severe head injury. The plaintiff sustained permanent neurologic damage as a result of the head injury.

The subject accident occurred on January 3, ________, on La Tuna Canyon Road in Los Angeles. It was raining at time and this was a high-impact accident, with closing speeds estimated at 50 mph at the time of the collision. The Delta-V to the Honda Civic was 26 to 27 mph. The plaintiff was wearing her seatbelt, however, during the collision, the hinge bracket on the right side of the driver’s seat failed. The plaintiff suffered a severe head injury and remained in a coma for several weeks.

The plaintiff contended that the driver’s seat of the ________ Honda Civic was defectively manufactured. In particular, the metal bracket which connected the seat bottom to the seat back had fractured due to alleged weakness. The plaintiff further contended that as a result of the seat fracture, she was thrown into the right rear of the vehicle where she suffered the head injury by striking the vehicle interior below the right rear window. In addition, the plaintiff alleged that the seat and seatbelt combination failed to comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard ________, which requires that the lap belt remain on the pelvic area during collisions.

Honda asserted that in violent rear end collisions such as the subject accident, the seats are designed to yield fully back to the rear seat area in order to absorb collision energy. According to the defendant, the plaintiff’s driver’s seat functioned just as designed and assisted her in surviving this crash. The defendant further asserted that the cause of the plaintiff’s head injury was not the seat fracture, but rather, impact with the center post (B-pillar) of the vehicle before the seat back broke. The defendant pointed to an indentation on the center post and asserted that the plaintiff’s head struck this area due to rotation on the roadway and the collision. The plaintiff countered that the indentation on the center post was caused when the metal frame inside the headrest of the driver’s seat struck the center post after the seat back broke.

The case settled after trial commenced for an undisclosed amount.

Two mediations were held prior to trial. Just before trial, the defendant served a C.C.P. ________ Offer to Settle for $________. The plaintiff had earlier in the litigation made a Statutory Offer to Compromise for $________. Also earlier in the case, there had been a dangerous condition of public property claim against the City of Los Angeles related to the roadway, La Tuna Canyon Road. In February of ________, this aspect of the case settled for $________ plus a pay-off of a $________ medical lien.

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