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Morgen v. Defendant Automobile Manufacturer

Supreme Court of Indiana, 797 N.E.2d 1146 (IN 2003)03/01/2003


Defendant Automobile Manufacturer


Defense Verdict; Judgment at Appeals Trial Affirmed in Favor of Defendant

Plaintiff, age 18, was a passenger in a vehicle that was struck from behind by another vehicle. As a result of the accident, the plaintiff was rendered a complete quadriplegic. Plaintiff alleged inadequate crashworthiness, causing movement of the passenger seat into the roof. The defense contended that the forces of the accident caused plaintiff’s head to strike the roof of the vehicle and fracture his spine, and this occurred regardless of the vertical movement of the seat during the accident. Plaintiff sought $42 million. The jury returned a defense verdict. The supreme court reversed the decision of the appellate court and upheld the trial court decision to instruct the jury that the plaintiff’s failure to wear his seat belt, as a rear seat passenger, could be considered misuse of the vehicle and was a defense in the case.

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