Lexus Driver Wins $6.5M for Air Bag that Didn’t Deploy
A driver won a $6.5 million jury award against Toyota for her injuries in an accident when the side air bag failed to deploy.
Katherine M. Sprague was driving her 2004 Lexus ES 330 in Omaha, Neb., when a driver going in the opposite direction turned in front of her and forced her vehicle up a limestone wall. Although her son, riding in the backseat, was not injured, her side air bag didn’t fully deploy and she suffered neck injuries and dislocated vertebrae.
Her lawyers, John Weis and Lynn Shumway, argued that the vehicle’s air bag was defective and had it deployed fully, it would have prevented her from hitting her head on the steering wheel or cushioned her neck from jerking back violently.
Toyota argued that there was nothing wrong with the air bag system and that the way Sprague was sitting and the way her seatbelt was not tightly secured against her body made her injuries worse than they would have otherwise been.
But the jury disagreed and found that the vehicle did not conform to “generally recognized and prevailing state of the art” in the car industry at the time the 2004 vehicle was manufactured.
Jurors awarded the 70-year-old woman $6.5 million for medical bills and future care, as well as damages for pain and suffering.
Sprague has been unable to work and undergone rehab of her upper neck which is in the shape of an “L” from the impact of the crash.
“Kathy is a private person, but I can tell you she is happy with the result,” Weis said. “We think the jury worked really hard and came to a just and fair conclusion.”
Toyota said while is sympathizes with Sprague, it does not agree with the verdict and will weigh its options on whether to appeal.