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Vermont Collapsed Seat Back Case Renders $43.2M Auto Products Liability Verdict

Our auto defects lawyers at The Gilbert Law Group® are proud and honored to announce that a jury in Burlington, Vermont awarded a $43.2 million collapsed seatback verdict to our client Dzmelia Heco against Johnsons Control Inc. on June 30, 2013. This is a record verdict. The previous record was $8 million.

Johnsons Control manufactured the faulty seat that failed, causing our client’s catastrophic injuries. Van Dorn & Curtiss (Orford, NH) and Langdon & Emison (Kansas City, MO) were our co-counsel in this case.

Mrs. Heco’s seatback collapsed when her Dodge Neon was rear-ended by another driver on August 4, 2007. The motorist fell asleep while driving a vehicle moving at 40 mph. The back of our client’s seat failed and she was pushed into the rear seating area of her car, which caused her neck and head to be pocketed into the rear seatback. Her neck was snapped during the force of contact and she was immediately paralyzed. Mrs. Heco is now a permanent quadriplegic.

During the auto products liability trial, The Gilbert Law Group® contended that the Neon’s seatback wasn’t strong enough because it had just one recliner mechanism rather than a dual-sided recliner, which would have made it two times stronger and prevented the tragic accident. Our seatback defects lawyers retained experts in automotive seat design, forensic pathology, computer modeling, reconstruction engineering, life care plans, and forensic accounting to make our client’s case.

We were able to reach a confidential auto defects settlement for Mrs. Heco with the local Dodge dealer that sold the car to her.

Mrs. Heco is a Bosnian refugee whose husband was killed during the war in Sarajevo. This woman worked three jobs and up to 70 hours a week in the US after she found a way to escape with her two young children from Bosnia 20 years ago. Following the seatback collapse accident, her sons became her full-time caregivers.

Injuries Caused by Seatback Failure in Car Accidents

Car seats should remain locked in place during a crash. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and a car seatback may collapse forward or backward, potentially causing catastrophic injury to the occupant. Such serious injuries can prove life altering, severely impacting the victim’s ability to live a normal life, earn a living, take care of family, maintain healthy relationships, and live independently. Medical costs, lifelong nursing care, and other expenses can take a toll.

Common causes of seat back failure include design defects, engineering errors, manufacturing mistakes, aging auto parts, and poor maintenance. Any of these could be grounds for an auto defects lawsuit against the automaker and/or a products liability case against the manufacturer of the car seat.

Throughout the US, The Gilbert Law Group® represents victims injured in seat back failure incidents involving car seats collapsing backward, potentially causing injury to the occupant of the seat as well as to the person seated behind the faulty car seat. Contact us for a free case assessment at 1-(303) 431-1111.