DeGenaro v. Defendant Automobile Manufacturer

  • Court of Common Pleas, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania11/02/2003
    Counsel: Mark H. Boyle
    Client: Defendant Automobile Manufacturer
    Outcome: Defense Verdict

Synopsis:

On June 10, 1999, 26-year-old Jennifer DeGenaro was driving when she rear-ended the vehicle in front of her. The impact deployed the driver’s air bag causing a severe fracture in her right upper arm, which required six separate surgeries and left her permanently deformed, scarred and disabled.

Plaintiff and her experts claimed that DeGenaro's vehicle's air bag inflator was too aggressive, particularly for short statured women. Plaintiff claimed that an alternative, safer and practicable design existed that would have prevented her severe upper arm fracture.

The defense contended that the vehicle’s driver air bag system demonstrated excellent performance in reducing the potential for serious head, neck and chest injuries for occupants of all sizes in frontal accidents.

The defense further established that plaintiff’s specific arm location at the time of deployment demonstrated that no alternative design would have eliminated the risk of severe upper extremity injury without compromising the air bag’s ability to meet the requirements of the existing Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and provide sufficient occupant protection in frontal crashes.

Plaintiff sought $850,000. The jury returned a verdict for the defense.

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