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Jury returns a defense verdict in Honda ATV trial
SCRANTON, PA - On November 4, 2005, after deliberating for less than two hours, the jury returned a special defense verdict finding no defect by a vote of 11 to 1 and no negligence by a unanimous vote. In the lawsuit, the plaintiff claimed the Honda ATV was unstable and caused the accident on June 15, 1996, which left John Ogozaly a quadriplegic.
John Ogozaly was operating a 1986 ATC 250ES three-wheeled all-terrain vehicle on a relatively flat and straight gravel road. At the time of the accident, plaintiff was heavily intoxicated and not wearing helmet or eye protection. According to the plaintiff’s sister, the ATV went out of control, went off the road and struck a chain link fenced. The plaintiff fell from the ATV and fractured his spine.
Defense attorneys argued that the design of the ATC 250 ES had excellent handling and stability. Honda maintained that the plaintiff’s various design alternatives were unnecessary and disadvantaged for three-wheel all-terrain vehicle. Key defense evidence included the comparative safety of three-wheel ATVs to four-wheel ATVs, as well as to other off-road vehicles and recreational vehicles. In addition, Honda argued that the plaintiff caused the accident by recklessly driving the ATV while being severely intoxicated, and injuries were the result of not wearing proper gear.
The plaintiff asked the jury to award past medical and wage loss damages of approximately $500,000; future medical damages of $6,000,000; future wage loss of $1,500,000; and unspecified amounts for non-economic and punitive damages.
Case name: John F. Ogozaly v. American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
Case number: 98-CV-2647
Judge: Judge Terrence Nealon
Attorneys for Plaintiff: Daniel W. Munley and Matthew A. Cartwright, Munley, Munley & Cartwright, Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Attorneys for Honda: Paul G. Cereghini, Bowman and Brooke LLP – Phoenix, Arizona, William F. Auther –Phoenix, Arizona, Bowman and Brooke LLP, Robert M. Goodman, Greenbaum, Rowe, Smith & Davis LLP –Roseland, New Jersey, and John J. Aponick, Jr., Marshall, Dennehey, Warner Coleman & Goggin – Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Plaintiff experts: Michael Burleson (mechanical engineering design) Tyler, Texas; Randy Nelson (motorcycle riding) Escondido, California; William Kitzes (product safety) Boca Raton, Florida; Edward Karnes (human factors) Morrison, Colorado; Jeffrey A. Mogerman (M.D.) Carbondale, Pennsylvania; Lawrence J. Guzzardi, M.D. (medical toxicologist) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Robert Vooght, Ph. D (rehabilitation specialist) Virginia Beach, Virginia; Patricia Chilleri (rehabilitation counselor) Kingston, Pennsylvania; and Andrew G. Verzilli, Ph. D. (economist) Lansdale, Pennsylvania.
Defense experts: Kirs Kubly (vehicle design and accident reconstruction) Madison, Wisconsin; James V. Benedict (biomechanic) San Antonio, Texas; Alan Dorris, Ph. D (human factors) Atlanta, Georgia; Isidore Mihalakis, M.D. (toxicologist) Phillipsburg, New Jersey and Graeme Fowler (mechanical engineering and risk analysis) Phoenix, Arizona.