Thomas Brady, 57, was a right front passenger in a rental car driven by co-worker, Mark Sears. They were stopped at a red light when a second vehicle rear-ended their vehicle. Plaintiff alleged that rental car's front seat and head restraint failed to provide adequate restraint to the plaintiff’s head and back during the rear impact.
Plaintiff’s experts criticized the height of the rental vehicle's front seat head restraint and the head restraint’s non-locking post design. Plaintiff claimed these defects caused plaintiff to hyperextend his head, neck and back during the impact. Plaintiff asserted the hyperextension aggravated pre-existing degenerative back and neck disease, including bending screws and a plate from a previous C5-7 cervical fusion.
Plaintiff further claimed that the defendant automobile manufacturer's activities in marketing the head restraint violated the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, and also claimed punitive damages.
The defense proved that the friction locking/dual-post head restraint adequately supported the head and lower neck without hyperextension, and the seat supported the lumbar and cervical spine area throughout the impact sequence.
The plaintiff and his wife asked the jury to find the seat and head restraint design defective and sought over $1 million in medical expenses as well as additional millions in pain and suffering, lost wages, lost consortium, and punitive damages.
Following a trial lasting seven weeks, the six-member jury unanimously found in favor of the defense after roughly two hours of deliberation.