Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Landmark Auto Product Liability Case Settles
In a landmark Illinois case, Bruce Pfaff and Michael Gill successfully settled the claims of an south suburban man who died because the seat on his 1996 Escort failed during a rear impact. Because of the seat failure, our client was thrown into the rear seat/rear window area of his car and he suffered a fatal head injury. The firm tried the case to a record $27,000,000 jury verdict in 2005 against the rear ending motorist, Ford Motor Company and Mazda Motor Company.After two trips to the appellate court and the Illinois Supreme Court, the judgment against the manufacturers was reversed because the high court changed the law concerning defective products and required a new trial. During the third day of trial proceedings in Cook County, the case settled.
The case highlighted the dangers that exist in front seats of cars and light trucks that are weak. The seat is the main safety device to protect a person in a rear impact and if it fails to stay upright, the seat occupant will be accelerated toward the back of the car where he can hit rear seat occupants or structures in the vehicle, causing severe injuries or death. This is the second seat defect case the office has tried against Ford Motor Company with success. The firm has also successfully represented plaintiffs in seat defect cases against other manufacturers.
A scene photograph taken by the Chicago Police Department shows that it was a significant impact (the Escort was hit by a Cadillac doing 55-60 mph) and that the driver's seat failed to stay upright in the crash.