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.