CASE RESULTS DEPEND UPON A VARIETY OF FACTORS UNIQUE TO EACH CASE. CASE RESULTS DO NOT GUARANTEE OR PREDICT A SIMILAR RESULT IN ANY FUTURE CASE.
Kia Wins Defense Verdict in Seatbelt Case
On Friday, November 16, 2007, a jury in the Los Angeles Superior Court unanimously agreed that there was no design defect in the restraint system of the 1995 Kia Sephia, and rejected a request for more than $13 million in civil damages.
The case arose out of a two vehicle crash that occurred in downtown Los Angeles on October 26, 2003. Jose Delgado was driving the family's Sephia with his wife Sylvia Delgado, age 54, in the right front seat and their daughter and granddaughter in the rear seats. The front seat occupants both were using the automatic shoulder belts provided in the Sephia. An on-coming VW Jetta turned left in front of the Sephia, striking it nearly head on. Mrs. Delgado sustained a chest, abdominal and leg injuries and was hospitalized for 6 months. No one else was seriously injured in the crash.
The Delgados sued Kia Motors Corporation and Kia Motors America, alleging that the right front restraint system was defectively designed. They also sued the driver of the Jetta, who settled out of court. During the trial, plaintiffs contended that the design of the Sephia's restraint system led to Mrs. Delgado's injuries, and that safer alternative design features should have been incorporated into the restraint system. Plaintiffs claimed that Mrs. Delgado is now permanently disabled and requires 24 hour care. Plaintiffs called numerous liability and damages experts during the three week trial. In closing argument plaintiffs' counsel asked the jury to award almost $5 million in past and future medical and care costs, and $8.5 million for past and future pain and suffering.
Kia asserted that the Sephia's restraint system was proven technology that was thoroughly tested, and instead contended that the injuries were a result of the negligence of the Jetta driver, severity of the crash and the physical characteristics of Mrs. Delgado.
The case was tried in Department 39 of the Superior Court before Judge Michael C. Solner. The 12 person jury deliberated less than three hours before returning its unanimous verdict in favor of Kia.
Case Name: Sylvia and Jose Delgado v. Kia Motors Corporation, et al
Case No.: BC336729
Venue: Los Angeles Superior Court
Attorneys for the Defense:
Kia was represented by Mark V. Berry, Scott J. Stockdale and Jenny A. Covington from Bowman and Brooke LLP in Los Angeles, California.
Attorneys for the Plaintiffs:
Plaintiffs were represented by Robert M. N. Palmer of Springfield, Missouri and Steven M. Sepassi of Encino, California.
Kurt Weiss (accident reconstruction, Santa Barbara, CA); David Biss (design and statistics, Rockville, MD); Dr. Carley Ward (biomechanics, Pacific Palisades, CA); Dr. Lawrence Miller (rehabilitation medicine, Los Angeles, CA); Jan Roughan (life care planning, Monrovia, CA); Dr. Joyce Pickersgill (economist, Santa Ana, CA); and Dr. Jacob Tauber (orthopaedist, Beverly Hills, CA).
Andrew Levitt (accident reconstruction, Torrance, CA); Thomas Tiede (design, Huntington Beach, CA); Dr. Rose Ray (statistics, Menlo Park, CA); Dr. Dennis Schneider (biomechanics, San Luis Obispo, CA); and Dr. Thomas Hedge (rehabilitation, Encino, CA).