A Texas jury awarded damages of $242 million to a Dallas family after finding that defects in the family’s Lexus sedan caused injuries to their two children during a rear-end collision, the law firm representing the plaintiffs said on Friday.
The verdict by the jury in Dallas County District Court includes more than $143.6 million in punitive damages after jurors agreed that the actions of Lexus-maker Toyota Motor Corp. and Toyota Motor Sales amounted to gross negligence, the Law Offices of Frank L. Branson said in a statement.
The collision involving the family’s 2002 Lexus ES 300 sedan occurred in September 2016. The 3-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter of Benjamin and Kristi Reavis were in the car’s back seat, in child safety seats, the statement said.
According to trial testimony, the rear impact caused the front seats to fail and collapse back into the children’s seats and the two children suffered traumatic brain injuries that will require lifelong care.
The jury found that the sedan’s front seats “were unreasonably dangerous and the defendants failed to warn about those dangers,” the statement said.
“The automaker made a conscious decision to protect front-seat occupants from crash injuries like whiplash at the expense of rear-seat passengers,” attorney Frank Branson said in the statement.
Toyota said it would consider its options going forward.
“While we respect the jury’s decision, we remain confident that the injuries sustained were the result of factors specific to this very severe collision, not a defect in the design or manufacturing of the 2002 Lexus ES300,” a Toyota spokesman said in an emailed statement.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh and Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru Editing by Leslie Adler)
Insurance Journal Editor’s Note:
In response to reader inquiries, here is more information of the jury award. The $242 million award included:
- $92M in compensatory damages for the two children for past and future medical care, loss of earning capacity, physical impairment, pain & anguish.
- $6 million for parents Ben and Kristi Reavis for past and future mental anguish.
The apportionment of the above damages was:
- Toyota Motor Corp. 90 percent
- Toyota Motor Sales 5 percent
- Honda Pilot driver who caused the rear-end collision 5 percent
The $143,600,400 in punitive damages for gross negligence was apportioned as follows:
- Toyota Motor Corp.: $129,600,000
- Toyota Motor Sales: $14,000,400
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