Stories of Justice
How We Helped an Ex-Bosnian Refugee Win $43M in a Defective Seat Case
The damage to this vehicle does not look substantial. In this accident, the impact occurred at only 35 mph. But the seatback in our client’s vehicle failed, and she was paralyzed as a result of the crash. A Vermont jury awarded $43.1 million for her injuries.
Our client received the justice—and compensation—she deserved because our law firm identified the defect that most law firms missed: The seatback in her vehicle was defective and caused her injuries to be much worse than they should have been in a low-impact crash.
Do I Have a Case?
If you were injured in a car accident, the real cause of your injuries may not be obvious. Don't assume your injuries were the fault of the driver who caused the accident. What if a vehicle defect caused your accident or injuries? Unfortunately, most law firms focus only on driver negligence and quickly settle cases for the insurance policy limits, which can be as low as $15,000 and miss the full potential to pay for your recovery. When you choose a law firm that settles quickly, you miss the chance to have a life-changing verdict or settlement.
Nearly every case our law firm handles involves a product defect or other form of negligence that caused catastrophic injuries or the loss of a loved one. It is our job to investigate your case to find out if a product defect caused your accident or injuries. Read below to learn about the defect we discovered in this case.
Our firm’s founding partner Bob Langdon was privileged to be the lead attorney on the defective seatback case. When talking about our client's vehicle, Bob will tell you, “The safety capsule was in good shape. Just the seat failed. The car performed the way it was supposed to. It crushed, absorbed the energy and did what it was supposed to do.”
The seat was designed by Johnson Controls, Inc. (JCI) with a single-sided recliner mechanism – the device that allows you to position your seatback forward and rearward for comfort. Because the recliner mechanism was only installed on one side of the seat, it permitted the seat to torque and rotate even in low-impact collisions. The torquing of the seat caused the recliner mechanism to fail and permitted the seatback to collapse backward into the rear seat.
The solution was simple and readily available to JCI: A dual-sided recliner mechanism, which would have distributed the force equally across the seatback and prevented the kind of torquing that caused the seatback to fail.
JCI’s own testing showed the seat would fail at low force impacts. In fact, JCI filed a patent in 1998 for a dual-sided mechanism to prevent this exact failure.
A dual-sided mechanism, using the same recliner but installed on both sides of the seat, yielded a much stronger seatback to withstand higher thresholds of force, nearly three times stronger than the seat in our client's vehicle. The alternative design would have protected our client and prevented her injuries.
Our law firm took JCI to trial in Vermont state court. Ultimately, the jury awarded our client $43.1 million for her injuries. Our attorneys and staff are pictured here with her family. Our law firm is grateful for the journey we shared with our client and her family and the trust they put in us to obtain justice on their behalf. This family will forever remain in our hearts.
Contact Langdon & Emison
The greatest honor we have as a law firm is helping people during their deepest time of need. The people we help have experienced tragedies that have permanently changed their lives. Either they have been seriously injured or lost a loved one in an accident that never should have happened.
We help injured people and their families. Let us help you. To reach our attorneys, call 800-397-4910.
Contact Langdon & Emison
We help injured people and their families. Let us help you. To reach our attorneys, call 800-397-4910 or click below.