The Virginia Supreme Court reversed a $20 million product liability verdict favoring a woman seriously injured when her Mazda convertible rolled over. Justices ruled trial court abused discretion in allowing plaintiff’s expert witness to testify, and further, defendant manufacturer had no legally recognized duty to design or supply a soft top to a vehicle that would provide protection to occupants in the event of a rollover crash.
This was a major decision, particularly given that, with interest, the actual payout in this case would have been well over $30 million.
The injury lawsuit stemmed from a single vehicle accident that occurred when the 26-year-old driver swerved to avoid an object on a dark roadway. The object reportedly flew off the back of a truck ahead of her. She took the risk of swerving because there was no oncoming traffic on the two-lane road. This led her up a slight grassy incline. Her convertible rolled, landing upside down, with the driver’s side up against a tree. The convertible top was up, but the force of impact caused the windshield to separate from the roof. When it collapsed inward, her head was forced down so severely it caused a condition known as hyperflexion. Continue reading →