$5.92M Verdict Awarded to Crash Victim in Defective Airbag Case

December 22nd, 2016

By Dean I. Weitzman, Esq.


An 83-year-old man was awarded a $5.92 million verdict by a Lackawanna County jury after he suffered paralysis of his lower extremities and a massively herniated disc when the driver’s airbag in his Mercury Sable failed to deploy when his car was struck by another vehicle in August of 2010.

The victim, John Cancelleri, was driving his Mercury south on Route 307 in Spring Brook Township, Pa., on Aug. 20, 2010, when his car was struck head-on by a Ford Mustang whose driver was trying to make a left turn, according to a Sept. 23 story in The Legal Intelligencer.

Cancelleri “underwent an anterior decompression of the spinal cord, with spinal cooling, and a cervical fusion,” at a hospital following the crash, and then underwent rehabilitation until Dec. 23, 2010.

The plaintiff sued Ford Motor Co. and Ray Price Motors Inc., the dealership where he had his vehicle regularly maintained, “alleging strict product liability regarding crashworthiness and defective design,” the story reported. The plaintiffs “argued that the crash sensor and the restraint control module in the vehicle malfunctioned and were defectively designed.”

The lawsuit noted that the passenger side airbag in Cancelleri’s Mercury did deploy in the crash, even though no one was sitting in the passenger seat, the story reported. The failure of the driver’s airbag and the actual deployment of the passenger side airbag “further indicated a defect, as the vehicle was equipped with a device that determines whether a seat is occupied,” the plaintiffs charged, according to the story.

The plaintiff’s memo said that “Defendant Ford has no logical explanation for the deployment of the passenger frontal impact airbag,” the story reported.

“Cancelleri’s expert airbag engineer, Chris Caruso, opined in the pretrial memo that the frontal airbag should have deployed, and that the crash sensor must be mounted in the crush zone to ensure timely activation of the safety system,” the story reported. “The restraints in the Sable depended on a single satellite front crash test sensor for deployment, and Ford should have mounted the crash sensor on a crushing structure to ensure proper deployment of the airbag, he opined according to the memo. He further said, according to the memo, that the sensor was not mounted in the proper position, and the failure to deploy was due to the system design.”

The lack of airbag deployment “allowed Cancelleri to strike his head on either the steering wheel or the A pillar in the vehicle,” the story reported. “Cancelleri’s memo said an expert hired by Ford admitted that Cancelleri would not have been able to strike his head in such a way had the airbag deployed.”

Cancelleri’s health after the crash declined in September 2011 when he was readmitted to the hospital due to multiple urinary tract infections, episodes of falling, severe neck pain, and further spinal cord damage, the story reported.

The injuries suffered in the crash led to other related health problems, including neurogenic bowel and bladder, the onset of diabetes due to the treatment, pneumonia and a severe ulcer on Cancelleri’s coccyx, the story reported.

After hearing the testimony in the case, the jury ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, finding that the “airbag was defectively designed, that a safer alternative design was available, and that the defect caused the injuries,” the story reported.

Cancelleri and his wife were awarded $120,707 in past medical expenses, $1.3 million in future medical expenses, $1.2 million in past pain and suffering, $1.8 million in future pain and suffering, $600,000 in past loss of consortium and $900,000 in future loss of consortium.

These kinds of injury cases occur every day when innocent victims are hurt or killed in vehicle crashes through no fault of their own due to the actions or indifference of others. That’s why it is critical to have a legal team on your side that uncovers every fact to bolster your case and maximize your damage award.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a vehicle incident or accident anywhere in the United States. We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-(866) 352-4572 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.

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