Three-car collision leads to suit against Nissan

By Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau | Dec 29, 2007

MARSHALL -- While traveling down University Boulevard in Tyler on Nov. 28, 2006, Rebecca Perdue's 1995 Nissan Pathfinder was caught in a three-vehicle collision. After hitting another vehicle, Kenneth Smith's vehicle crashed into Perdue's Nissan.

Although Perdue believes she was properly wearing her seatbelt at the time of the accident, she states she received serious injuries when the Nissan failed to protect her.

Perdue filed a motor vehicle product liability lawsuit against Nissan Motor Company on Dec. 17 in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

The plaintiff states the 1995 Nissan Pathfinder was "not reasonably crashworthy" but was "unreasonably dangerous and defective," as demonstrated through its "poor crash test performance, stiff crash pulse, performance in real world crashes, and high death rate."

The plaintiff alleges the Nissan vehicle was defective through a design that was too stiff and rigid to appropriately distribute impact forces and instead transmitted those forces into the occupant space.

She states the Nissan failed to provide an adequate restraint design or an advanced restraint system that she says is necessary for vehicles with rigid and stiff structures to achieve "ride-down," which is the "reduction in restraint loading and risk of occupant injury."

Perdue states the existing seatbelts in Nissan vehicles have been shown defective by failing to protect occupants in real world frontal crashes.

According to the complaint, Perdue believes Nissan has been involved in the development of advanced restraints systems for decades but decided not to include an advanced restraint design in her 1995 Pathfinder.

Perdue describes the Nissan Experimental Safety Vehicle program that evaluated and addressed the pros and cons associated with advanced safety features.

"To eliminate the consequences of the dangerously stiff and rigid vehicle, an airbag and/or other advanced safety restraint must be used because the restraint system is incomplete and ineffective without such features," the complaint asserts.

The plaintiff also states that Nissan investigated the use of front-end structure modification to improve the crashworthiness of its vehicles but did not incorporate an appropriate design to the vehicle at issue.

Perdue believes that if her 1995 Nissan Pathfinder had contained a properly designed advanced restraint system including an airbag, she would not have been injured in the three-car collision.

The plaintiff is seeking more than $75,000 in damages for medical expenses, physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, disfigurement, impairment, loss of consortium, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, interference with daily activities and a reduced capacity to enjoy life.

Dallas attorneys E. Todd Tracy and Andrew G. Counts of the Tracy Firm are representing the plaintiff in her allegations against the car manufacturer.

Judge Leonard Davis will preside over the litigation.

Case No.: 2:07cv00546

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