Defective Vehicle Case Results

Langdon & Emison in a national leader in the area of auto product defect litigation, having taken on the world’s largest corporations in courtrooms from coast to coast, including the U.S. Supreme Court. We have obtained record-setting multi-million dollar verdicts and seven-figure recoveries in auto defect cases involving many types of auto defects.


Featured Cases

The Featured Cases below demonstrate our success as trial attorneys and the multi-million and million-dollar verdicts we have obtained for our clients in courtrooms across the country. The list also illustrates our deep experience and expertise across an array of personal injury litigation.


$59 million jury verdict, Seat Belt Case, Kumar v. Toyota

Langdon & Emison represented a car passenger whose legs were crushed and later amputated as a result of sliding under his seat belt in a wreck. Toyota’s failure to warn about the dangers of riding with a reclined seat led to Maryland’s largest jury verdict at the time.

$43.1 million, Defective Seat Back, Heco v. Midstate Dodge LLC et al.

Langdon & Emison represented a woman who became quadriplegic after the seat back in her car failed when she was rear-ended while waiting at a stop light. A Vermont jury awarded our client the largest verdict in Vermont history at the time.

$26.4 million, Fuel-Fed Fire, Wasilik v. Ford

A head-on collision resulted in a fuel-fed fire when gasoline siphoned out of the fuel tank after the initial impact, causing serious burns to those involved. Our client was awarded $26.4 million for the severe burns he suffered. At the time, this tort verdict was the largest awarded in Maryland.

$23.4 million, Ford Explorer Rollover/Tire Defects, Castillo v. Ford

A Ford Explorer rolled over several times when the left tire detreaded, causing the vehicle to tramp and skate, run off the highway and roll down a steep embankment where it came to rest after hitting a tree. The accident caused the driver to suffer catastrophic injuries and quadriplegia.

$16.9 million. Seat Belt Case, Martin v. Ford

Langdon & Emison represented a Florida woman who was involved in a Windstar minivan collision that rendered her paraplegic. The legal team successfully argued that Ford failed to warn our client about the dangers of riding with a reclined seat, among other claims.

$12.5 million, Fuel-Fed Fire, Mathes v. Ford

A semi-truck hit a Ford F-150 that was then subsequently rear-ended by another vehicle, causing the fuel tank to be punctured. A large fire resulted and three people were burned to death. This case resulted in a $12.5 million verdict for Mr. Mathes, whose son and parents burned to death in the collision.

$11.3 million, Baker v. General Motors

Two adults burned to death in a post-collision fuel-fed fire because the car was not equipped with an anti-siphoning device. This case was the first in the country to have admitted into evidence what has been termed the “Ivey Memo,” in which a General Motors engineer compared the cost of fixing fire-causing defects with the deaths that resulted from vehicle fires. GM concluded that it could only spend $2.25 per vehicle to prevent fires – after that, it was in GM’s economic interests to pay wrongful death lawsuits rather than fix the problems. The jury awarded $11.3 million to victims’ family.

$8 million, Seat Back Failure, George v. Johnson Controls, Inc.

The firm successfully filed suit against a large auto seat manufacturer, on behalf of the family of a 2 year-old girl who suffered a brain injury in a rear-end auto accident. During the accident, the back of the driver’s seat broke, causing the driver’ head to hit the young girl’s head and injure her.

$2.15 million, RV Defects, Ludwick v. United Expresslines, Inc.

A family of four was asphyxiated in their RV trailer while attending and participating in automobile races at the Mid-American Raceway near Wentzville, Mo. Our legal team successfully argued the trailer was defectively designed and manufactured and failed to incorporate warning systems for the detection of carbon monoxide gas.

$2 million, Trailer Weld Failure, McBee v. Featherlight

A Featherlight trailer was being pulled by a Ford pickup that was involved in a head-on collision. The Featherlight trailer’s tongue broke, allowing the trailer to come through the cad and ignite the vehicle. The driver burned to death as a result.

$1.6 million, Defective Motorcycle, McDowell v. Kawasaki

The driver of a motorcycle sustained a serious leg fracture during an accident because his motorcycle was equipped with a defective side fairing bracket. The case resulted in a $1.6 million jury verdict.


Seat Back Failure, Bruce v. Ford

Donna Bruce was driving a Ford Explorer when a Jeep Cherokee struck her after the Cherokees driver had fallen asleep. During the collision, Donna’s seat back failed and she was thrown into the back seat where she struck her son, Nathan Bruce. Nathan suffered severe injuries, including brain injury. This case resulted in a confidential settlement.

Seat Back Failure, Grant v. Toyota

Our client was killed in a very low impact rear collision, where both cars were able to drive off the scene, that involved a seat back failure. Our client developed a subdural hematoma and died. This case resulted in a confidential settlement for the victim’s family.

Seat Belt System/Seat Design, Williams v. Ford

A young man fell asleep in his car, lost control and went off the road. During the accident, he bottomed out in his seat, allowing his shoulder belt to come up around his neck. He was rendered quadriplegic as a result of the accident.

Seat Belt Defects/Tire Defects, Demas v. Nissan/Michelin

Our client Chad Demas was the front seat passenger in a 1994 Nissan Sentra when the rear passenger tire suffered a detread, causing the vehicle to overturn one-and-a-half times before coming to rest on its roof. Despite being fully restrained, Chad lost all seat belt protection when the front passenger door opened and the automatic shoulder belt moved up and forward, out of its locked position, allowing the crash forces to eject Chad from the vehicle.

Lap Only Belt, Batts v. Ford

After a six-week jury trial in North Carolina, Langdon & Emison reached a confidential settlement with Ford Motor Co. on behalf of a 11 year-old boy who suffered life-altering injuries from the two-point lap belt he was wearing in a car accident that rendered him paraplegic. The child, who was in the middle seating position, “jackknifed” over the lap belt and suffered severe spinal cord and abdominal injuries.

Center Lap Belt Only, Blankenship v. GM

Jessica Blankenship was riding in the middle row center seat of a Pontiac Transport minivan. The driver of the minivan lost control going around a curve and hit a tree. The two front seat passengers were wearing three-point lap/shoulder seat belts and were uninjured in the collision. Jessica was wearing the lap belt, only the seat belt provided for the middle row center seating position. The lap belt caused severe internal injuries and caused Jessica to become paralyzed from the waist down.

Seat Belt Failure, Craun v. GM

Serious injuries and death were caused by a head-on collision wherein the restraint system failed and allowed the plaintiff to strike the steering wheel and windshield.

Automatic Seat Belt, Fine v. GM

An 11-year old girl, Windy Fine, was riding in the front passenger seat of a Saturn vehicle, manufactured by General Motors. The Saturn was struck by another vehicle and hit the rear-end of a tow truck at low speed. No other occupant of the Saturn vehicle was injured in this collision, but Windy was fatally injured by the automatic seat belt.

Center Seat Lap Belt Only, Hess v. Honda

C.B Hess was traveling with a group of friends when the driver of the Honda CR-V lost control of the vehicle and struck a tree. C.B. Hess was the only occupant wearing a seat belt and the only occupant killed in this collision. Every expert in this case has agreed that the lap belt only restraint that C.B. was wearing at the time of the collision caused the injuries that killed him.

Child Car Seat/Automatic Seat Belt, Lawson v. Century Child Seats and GM

A young child was riding in a car seat when this vehicle was in a head-on collision. The child suffered serious brain damage.

Automatic Seat Belt, Kircher v. Nissan

Mrs. Kircher was involved in a head-on collision which rendered her a paraplegic as a result of the passive, automatic seat belt she was wearing.

Rear Seat Lap Belt Only, Schouten v. Ford

This Ford vehicle was equipped with a rear center seat lap belt-only restraint system. A child sitting in the rear of the car was paralyzed as a result of an accident. The child’s mother and father, front seat occupants, were not seriously injured. This case resulted in a confidential settlement while the jury was being brought into the courtroom.

Restraint System/Seat Design, Williams v. Ford

A young man fell asleep in his car, lost control and went off the road. He bottomed out in his seat, allowing his shoulder belt to come up around his neck. He was rendered a quadriplegic as a result of this accident.

Failed Airbag Deployment, Callaway v. Ford

A car pulled out in front of the vehicle in which Callaway was a passenger. The airbag failed to deploy and Callaway made contact with the windshield, causing him to suffer serious injuries.

Tire Failure, McLaughlin v. Sumitotmo Rubber Industries, Inc.

A commercial truck overturned, fell off a bridge and caught fire in a tire detread accident, causing our client to tragically burn to death. The poor design and construction of the inner liner of one of the tires led to oxidation across the belt plies, ultimately resulting in the tread separation that caused the fatal accident.

Mismatched Tire and Wheel, Matthews v. Budd and Michelin

Sammy Matthews was helping a friend by inflating a tire to determine if the tire was leaking and if he could repair it. However, what Sammy did not know, was that the tire mounted on the rim was designed for a wheel rim of a different size. After Sammy had inflated the tire, the tire bead broke and caused the tire to explode. Sammy was struck in the head and suffered severe injuries, including a brain injury.

Door Latch Failure, Morse v. Ford

During a side impact, the door on the passenger side of a Ford Taurus opened and both occupants were ejected, despite the vehicle was traveling at a moderate speed. One occupant suffered serious injuries while the other died.

Aged Tire/In-Cab Fuel Tank Puncture, Turner v. GM

Travis Turner was driving a General Motors pickup when one of its tires experienced a catastrophic detread. Travis lost control of the truck and collided with another vehicle. The fuel tank, which was located inside the cab of the truck, was compromised and Travis burned to death.

Fuel-Fed Fire, Galvez v. GM

2001 Chevy Blazer was involved in a rear-end collision; the fuel filler neck separated, the tank was not shielded properly, thus the vehicle caught on fire. There was one death; two were severely burned. The firm reached a successful settlement to this case in 2010.

Fuel-fed Fire, Roberts v. GM

This case involved a post-collision fuel-fed fire that occurred after multiple punctures of the fuel tank in an auto accident. The defective design of the vehicle’s fuel tank and components caused the fire.  The firm resolved the matter successfully in 2011.

Fuel-fed Fire, Crow/Miller v. Ford

A collision of two Ford Explorers resulted in six fire-related deaths. A defective design of the fuel tank bracket of a 1999 Explorer was at the heart of this case, as well as a fuel tank puncture in a 2004 Explorer. A confidential settlement was reached in 2010.

Fuel-fed Fire/Defective Fuel System, Hockerman v. Chrysler

Two children tragically burned to death in a fuel-fed fire that occurred after the Chrysler minivan in which they were riding was struck on the driver’s side. Langdon & Emison’s legal team showed that a number of defects in the fuel system design, including a defective fuel tank filler neck and the lack of an anti-spill valve, were responsible for the fire, which otherwise should have been prevented. Further, the legal team successfully argued that Chrysler failed to test the capability of the fuel filler hose to withstand minimum crash forces during the design and development of the subject minivans.

Torn Fuel Line/Door Locking Mechanism, Alexander v. GM

A torn fuel line caused a vehicle fire and the plaintiff sustained serious injuries. This case resulted in a confidential settlement while the jury was deliberating on its verdict.

Side Saddle Gas Tank, Clark v. GM

A pickup truck ran off the road and struck a culvert. The truck was designed with sidesaddle gas tanks, which compromised the fuel system. A post-collision fuel-fed fire resulted, killing the driver.

Fuel Tank Puncture, Dobbs v. GM

A post-collision fuel-fed fire in a General Motors C/L truck resulted in serious burns to a victim because the gasoline tank was punctured when the vehicle slid off the road and hit a tree.

Side-Saddle Gas Tank, Gribat v. GM

A General Motors C/K truck was involved in a head-on collision, resulting in the rupture of the sidesaddle fuel tank. The accident caused a burn death.

Ruptured Fuel Tank, Head v. GM

A General Motors C/K truck struck a tree and ruptured its gas tank, resulting in a post-collision fuel-fed fire. The fire caused severe burns and death.

Punctured Fuel Tank, Hinderks v. GM

A gasoline tank was punctured when another vehicle struck a General Motors C/K truck causing a post-collision fuel-fed fire that resulted in burn deaths.

Ruptured Gas Tank, Hundelson v. GM

A General Motors C/K truck struck a tree and ruptured its gas tank, resulting in a post-collision fuel-fed fire. The fire caused severe burns and death. This case resulted in a confidential settlement.

Ruptured Fuel Tank, Klarlund v. GM

This case involved a post-collision fuel-fed fire with a General Motors C/K truck. After a T-bone accident, the gasoline tank ruptured and the plaintiff burned to death.

Fuel Siphoning/Fuel System Compromise, Moore v. Ford

Mrs. Moore burned to death in a post-collision fuel-fed fire that resulted from the siphoning of gasoline out of the tank. Additionally, Moore was trapped inside her vehicle because the doors were defective and would not open.

Ruptured Fuel Tank, Pierce v. Honda

A Honda passenger car collided with a guardrail, riding up on top of it. This collision sliced the tank open and caused a fire. There were numerous burn victims and a death.

In-Cab Fuel Tank Puncture/Aged Tire, Shaffer-Kleoppel v. GM

This case involved a post-collision fuel-fed fire where the gasoline escaped from a gasoline tank inside the passenger compartment of a General Motors pickup truck. The plaintiff suffered severe burns.

Pickup Truck Rollover, Brockman v. Toyota

A Toyota pickup truck rolled over after a wheel dropped off of the roadway while driving through a construction zone where the contractor failed to make the edge of the road even with the highway.

Ford Explorer Rollover/Aged Tire, Patrick v. Ford

A family of five was driving home to Las Vegas from attending a family funeral in Oklahoma. After suffering a flat tire overnight, the family continued their trip using the full-sized Michelin spare tire. After only a short time, the Michelin tire experienced a catastrophic failure and detread. The Ford Explorer rolled while still on the highway. Each member of the Patrick family suffered injuries in this accident and Carol Patrick was killed.

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