Case details

Defense: Vehicle’s restraint system adequately designed





Result type

Not present

back, chest, fracture, neck, rib, sternum
On Sept. 4, 2010, plaintiff Isaura Garcia, 57, a seamstress, was driving a 2005 Ford F-150 with plaintiff Celia Morando, a 64-year-old unemployed woman, as a front seat passenger and plaintiff Antonio Martin as another passenger. Garcia was traveling at more than 60 mph and was trying to exit Interstate 710 in Compton when she suddenly struck a guardrail on the off-ramp and rear-ended a Honda Civic. She then veered into oncoming traffic and collided head-on with a Lexus, before striking a utility pole and coming to a stop. Garcia and Morando both suffered fractures to the chest, ribs and spine, while Martin suffered a fractured rib. Garcia, Morando and Martin sued the manufacturer of Garcia’s vehicle, Ford Motor Co., and the dealership of Casa De Gonzalez and Gonzales Automotive Group Inc., which was doing business as Casa De Gonzales. It was ultimately determined that the dealership was no longer in business, and default judgments were entered against Casa De Gonzalez and Gonzales Automotive Group. In addition, Martin was dismissed from the case via summary judgment. Thus, the matter proceeded with only the claims of Garcia and Morando against Ford Motor. According to Ford Motor’s counsel, the plaintiffs’ originally claimed that the F-150’s brakes were defective. However, at trial, plaintiffs’ counsel contended that the truck’s restraint system was inadequate. Counsel argued that the vehicle’s restraint system should have included safety features, such as an inflatable seat belt, a seat integrated restraint, a larger airbag, and a retractor-mounted seat belt pretensioner, which were allegedly all technologically available when the 2005 F-150 was manufactured. Thus, counsel argued that Ford Motor defectively designed the restraint system in the 2005 F-150, in that it failed to protect the vehicle’s occupants. Ford Motor’s counsel contended that the F-150 complied with, and exceeded, federal motor vehicle safety standards and that the restraint system protected the vehicle’s occupants from more serious injury. Counsel also countered that, at the time of the accident, Garcia was driving twice the speed limit and had fully depressed the gas pedal, rather than the brake, while on the off-ramp. Thus, counsel argued that Garcia caused the accident and the resulting ., Garcia and Morando were taken from the scene of the accident and brought to a hospital. Garcia suffered fractures to her chest, ribs, back and neck. She claimed she continues to suffer pain and restrictions in movement as a result of her . Morando suffered fractures to her sternum, ribs, back and neck. She ultimately underwent surgery, which included the insertion of medical devices in her neck that she alleged limited her movement.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Torrance, CA

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