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Dobrinski v. Toyota

California
Apr 18, 2006

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.

Unanimous Sacramento jury agrees Toyota not responsible for woman's death

SACRAMENTO, CA - On Tuesday, April 18, 2006, following a month of trial, a unanimous Sacramento jury found that Toyota's 1996 Corolla was not defective and it did not cause Jennifer Dobrinski's death.

In the case, Dobrinski v. Toyota Motors Sales, USA, Inc., et al., plaintiffs Eric and Jacob Dobrinski, husband and son of the decedent, had asked the jury for an award in excess of $3 million.  After deliberating nearly 60 minutes, the jury of seven women and five men returned a unanimous verdict in favor of Toyota. 

The case arose from an October 6, 1999 four-vehicle crash on U.S. 50 in Sacramento.  Jennifer Dobrinski, driving a 1996 Toyota Corolla, was at a full stop in the exit lane of the highway at rush hour traffic when she was rear ended by another vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed.  The force of the impact pushed Dobrinski's vehicle into the rear of the car ahead of her, and that car into another car.  Dobrinski was the only one involved who sustained major injuries, that later resulted in her death.

Throughout trial, Toyota's defense attorneys maintained the vehicle's rear structure was properly designed and did not cause Ms. Dobrinski's death.  In addition, the defense showed the crash was such a high-speed rear-end collision that no other vehicle design on the road today could have mitigated these injuries.  In fact, the cause of the crash and resulting death of Dobrinski was caused by Grant Sargeant, the driver of the 1971 Pontiac LeMans that rear-ended Dobrinski.  Sargeant was arrested and charged with vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence; he was sentenced to five months of house arrest and ordered to pay restitution. 

Dobrinski v. Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc., et al.      
Case No. 00AS05522
Judge Lloyd Phillips
Sacramento County Superior Court

Attorneys for Defense:                                                                                                                          
James W. Halbrooks, Jr. and Vincent Galvin, Jr. of Bowman and Brooke's Minneapolis and San Jose offices

Attorneys for Plaintiff:                                                                                                                                 
Gary B. Callahan, Wilcoxen, Callahan, Montgomery & Deacon, Sacramento, CA and Jeffrey L. Jacobs, Law Offices of Jeffrey L. Jacobs, Sacramento, CA

Experts appearing at trial for Defense:                                                             
Andrew Levitt, Reconstruction, Collision Research & Analysis, Inc., Torrance, CA; Thomas McNish, Biomechanics, Biodynamic Research Corporation, San Antonio, TX; Michael James, Accident reconstruction software, Collision Safety Engineering, Orem, UT

Experts appearing at trial for Plaintiff:                                    
Wilson Hayes, Ph.D., Reconstruction and biomechanics, Hayes and Associates, Inc., Corvallis, OR; Peter Formuzis, Ph.D., Economist, Santa Ana, CA

Trial Team

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