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NISSAN WINS SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN CHILD INJURY SEATBACK CASE
LOS ANGELES, CA - April 1, 2008, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge C. Edward Simpson granted the Motion for Summary Judgment of Nissan North America, Inc. and two of its dealers.
This driver negligence and automotive product liability crashworthiness action arose out of a December 3, 2002 multi-vehicle freeway crash on eastbound I-210 in Arcadia, CA. Plaintiff Joey Lucero (age 7) was riding in a child seat mounted in the left rear of his mother's 2002 Nissan Altima. The underlying crash was initiated when the driver of a 2001 Honda Accord reportedly encroached into plaintiff's lane of travel and then came to a stop. Plaintiff's mother reported that she could not avoid the collision and rear-ended the Honda at freeway speed. Several other vehicles were also involved.
Both occupants in the 2002 Nissan Altima claimed they were injured. Plaintiff claimed various orthopedic injuries as well as psychological injuries as a result of the crash. He sued the encroaching driver for negligence and the Nissan defendants for product liability claiming that the rear seatback folding feature was defective and the vehicle was not crashworthy.
Following discovery and various depositions, the Nissan defendants moved for summary judgment asserting that there was no defect in the 2002 Nissan Altima's rear seat belts, rear seat and rear seatback, and that there was no evidence that plaintiff's injuries were enhanced by any aspect of the 2002 Nissan Altima. The motion was supported by declarations of automotive engineer Roger W. Brown and pediatric neurologist Dr. Ira T. Lott.
Plaintiff opposed the motion for summary judgment with declarations of the plaintiff, his mother, and his father, a former police officer who claimed expertise in accident reconstruction and biomechanics. The Nissan defendants filed evidentiary objections to these declarations.
At the hearing, the Court sustained the Nissan defendants' evidentiary objections. Further, the Court ruled that the Nissan defendants had presented undisputed evidence that: (1) there was no defect in the 2002 Nissan Altima; and,
(2) plaintiff's injuries were consistent with the severity of the crash, and the 2002 Nissan Altima did not cause or enhance plaintiff's injuries.
Plaintiff was represented by Kenneth L. Gibson of South Pasadena, CA. The Nissan defendants were represented by H. Franklin Hostetler, Bowman and Brooke of Los Angeles, CA.