Michelle Keahey, East Texas Bureau Mar. 10, 2013, 5:34pm

MARSHALL - An Upshur County woman, who was rendered a quadriplegic in a vehicle crash, has filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer of her vehicle claiming it was unfit for clearly foreseeable accidents.

Lenora Kay Austell and Arthur Austell filed suit against Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., Nissan North American Inc. and Germania Select Insurance Co. on Jan. 28, 2012, in Uphsur County District Court. The defendants removed the case to the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas on March 7.

The collision occurred on Sept. 20, 2011, as Arthur Austell was a restrained driver of a 2008 Nissan Altima and Lenora Austell was a restrained passenger. They were traveling south on SL 281 and were involved in a collision with a vehicle driven by an “underinsured” driver Vicki Hardin.

Hardin allegedly failed to yield the right of way at the intersection of Country Club Road and SL281 and collided with the Austell vehicle.

Lenora Austell suffered a severe cervical spinal cord injury that rendered her a quadriplegic, according to the lawsuit.

Hardin’s liability policy limits were inadequate to cover the Austell’s harms and losses sustained in the collision.  According to court documents, Hardin settled her portion of the lawsuit for $2.5 million.

The Austells have an underinsured motorist benefits policy with Germania and claim that the insurance company is in breach of that contract.

Nissan is accused of strict products liability and negligence in that the vehicle was defective and in an unreasonably dangerous condition and was not crashworthy and reasonably fit for clearly foreseeable accidents.

The lawsuit is seeking an award of damages for medical expenses, physical impairment, disfigurement, physical pain and mental anguish, loss of household services, loss of consortium, interest, and costs.

The plaintiffs are represented by Andrew L. Payne of Payne Mitchell Law Group in Dallas and Scott B. Frenkel of Frenkel & Frenkel LLP in Dallas.

A jury trial is requested.

Case No. 2:13-cv-00200

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