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DEFENDANT''S Motor vehicle products liablity - Rear end collision resulted in roll over of vehicle - Allegations of design defect.

Orange County, California

The plaintiff alleged that while she was operating her ________ Ford Land Rover Discovery she was rear-ended by another vehicle traveling at between 60-80 miles per hour. As a result of the collision, the plaintiff’’s vehicle was pushed onto the shoulder of the highway and flipped over 41/2 times. As a result of the collision the plaintiff suffered serious neck injuries which resulted in quadriplegia and a basilar skull fracture. The plaintiff alleged a roof design defect which caused the roof of the vehicle to collapse. The plaintiff also sued the driver of the other vehicle for negligence. On December 16, ________, the 43-year-old female plaintiff, a homemaker, was driving her ________ Ford Land Rover Discovery. She was traveling on State Highway 99 in Fresno, California when her vehicle was struck from behind by another vehicle. The other vehicle was driving at approximately 60-80 miles per hour at the time that the vehicle rear-ended the plaintiff. The driver of the colliding motor vehicle maintained that she fell asleep, causing the collision. As a result of the collision, the plaintiff’’s vehicle was pushed onto the shoulder of the road and flipped over 41/2 times before coming to rest. The roof on the vehicle collapsed causing the plaintiff to suffer a basilar skull fracture and serious neck injuries. As a result of the neck injury, the plaintiff is a quadriplegic who requires round-the- clock care and attention. The plaintiff brought suit against the driver of the other vehicle alleging negligence in the operation of her vehicle. The plaintiff also brought suit against Ford Motor Company and Land Rover of North America, Inc. on a products liability theory. The plaintiff alleged that the roof on her Land Rover Discovery was defectively designed, allowing it to easily collapse when the vehicle rolled over. The driver of the other vehicle settled with the plaintiff prior to trial for an undisclosed sum. The matter proceeded to trial only as to defendants Ford Motor Company and Land Rover of North America. Inc. on the products liability claims asserted by the plaintiff. The defendant Land Rover denied that the roof of the Discovery was defectively designed. While the defendant did acknowledge that there was some damage to the vehicle’’s roof, the defendant vehemently denied that the roof collapse was the cause of the plaintiff’’s injuries. The defendant maintained that the injury suffered by the plaintiff was most likely as a result of the plaintiff striking her head on the driver’’s side roof rail, which is located just forward of the B-pillar. The defendant maintained that while it is not possible to eliminate all potential for serious injury in a rollover accident that the defendant’’s rate of serious injury is extremely low and in fact is less than one percent. The trial against Land Rover proceeded for two and one-half months. At the conclusion of the trial, the nine-woman, three- man jury deliberated for 12 hours and returned its verdict in favor of the defendant.

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