Automaker found negligent in first major trial since moving corporate HQ to North Texas
DALLAS – A jury awarded a combined verdict of more than $242.1 million to a Dallas-area couple and their children on Friday after finding that defects to the front seats of the family’s Lexus ES 300 resulted in a failure that caused serious injuries to the family’s two young children during a 2016 rear-end collision.
The nine-man, three-woman jury deliberated more than eight hours before finding that the front seats in the ES 300 were unreasonably dangerous and the defendants failed to warn about those dangers. The verdict includes more than $143.6 million in punitive damages after jurors agreed that the actions of defendants Toyota Motor Corporation and Toyota Motor Sales amounted to gross negligence.
During two weeks of testimony, the trial team from The Law Offices of Frank L. Branson documented engineering, design and structural problems with the front seatbacks of the Lexus. Firm founder Frank L. Branson said the automaker made a conscious decision to protect front-seat occupants from crash injuries like whiplash at the expense of rear-seat passengers.
In addition to Mr. Branson, the trial team included Debbie Dudley Branson, Chip Brooker and Eric Stahl.
“This is a danger that Toyota has known about,” Mr. Branson said. “This company has had plenty of time to design around these safety shortcomings or at least provide the public with warnings. Our children deserve better.”
The wreck occurred in September 2016 as Benjamin and Kristi Reavis were traveling south on North Central Expressway in Dallas with their 3-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter secured in child safety seats in the sedan’s back seat. Their car was stopped in traffic when it was hit by a motorist in a Honda Pilot. The rear impact caused the front seats to fail and collapse back into the children’s seats. The two children suffered serious head trauma and other injuries.
The case is Benjamin Thomas Reavis and Kristi Carol Reavis et al. v Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc.; Toyota Motor Corporation et al., Cause No. DC-16-15296 in the 134th Judicial District in Dallas County.
The Law Offices of Frank L. Branson maintains a reputation for courtroom excellence based on significant verdicts and settlements for clients in high-stakes litigation and business disputes. The firm’s record verdicts and recoveries stem from cases involving trucking and transportation injuries, dangerous products, construction accidents, commercial plane crashes, explosions and burns caused by gas and electric power utilities, medical negligence, workplace catastrophes and business disputes. Visit http://www.flbranson.com to learn more.