DALLAS – A local family won its two-year-old lawsuit against Toyota on Aug. 17 when a jury reached a $242 million verdict in their favor, according to recent Dallas County District Court records.
In addition to awarding Benjamin Thomas and Kristi Carol Reavis and their two minor children damages, the same jury determined the Japanese multinational automotive corporation responsible for the Sept. 25, 2016 accident on which the Reavis’s litigation was based.
The family pursued legal action toward the end of 2016 after Michael Steven Mummaw rear-ended their 2002 Lexus ES 300 with a vehicle reportedly not his own on Highway 75. The elder Reavises emerged from the accident unscathed, but E.R. and O.R. “sustained skull fractures and traumatic brain injuries” when both the Lexus’s “front driver’s side seat and front passenger’s side seat failed and collapsed into the back seat,” the suit explained.
“The Toyota defendants’ vehicle has defectively designed front seats that can and do fail in a rear-impact collision,” the original petition said. “This defective design, among others, poses an unreasonable risk of severe and permanent injuries when the vehicle is rear ended.”
Toyota formally responded to the suit on Feb. 9, 2017, court records show. Its original answer asserted that the Lexus “complied with all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards “that were applicable to the vehicle at the time of its manufacture and that governed the risk that allegedly caused harm.”
The response also labeled the plaintiffs’ demand for damages unconstitutional since “any award of punitive or exemplary damages would constitute the imposition of a criminal penalty without the safeguards guaranteed by the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution of the United States, and similar provisions of the Texas Constitution.”
The jury concluded that Toyota was 90 percent at fault for the accident, holding the latter liable for the seat defect.
The Law Offices of Frank L. Branson, P.C. in Dallas represented the complainants.
Dallas County 134th District Court Case No. DC-16-15296