发信人: shishishishi (shishishishi), 信区: Automobile
标 题: Re: [转载] Re: 通用汽车380亿赔偿创美国新高
发信站: The unknown SPACE (Sun Jul 11 13:56:42 1999) WWW-POST
In the biggest product-liability award in U.S. history, a jury
ordered General Motors Corp. to pay $4.9 billion Friday tosix
people severely burned when theirChevrolet Malibu exploded in
flames in a rear-end collision.
The plaintiffs hailed the verdict as a huge victory for consumers,
while GM said it would appeal and legal expertsdoubted theaward
would stand on appeal.
``I just thank God that me and my kids survived,'' said plaintiff
Patricia Anderson, 31. ``I thank him for allowing me tobe
anexample to the public to put an end to this.''
The huge verdict came after a 10-week state court trial on
thedefective-products lawsuit that focused on an internal GM
study. The plaintiffs' lawyers said the study demonstratedthat GM
had known for years that the tanks were unsafe, but found it
cheaperto settle lawsuits than to pay for a recall.
The jury awarded Ms. Anderson, her four children and family friend
Jo Tigner $107 million in compensatory damagesand $4.8billion in
punitive damages for injuries they suffered in the 1993 accident.
``This crash was not GM's fault and we are disappointed the
conduct of this trial did not let the jury fairly evaluate
theclaims,'' GM spokesman Terry Rhadigan said.
Rhadigan said the Malibu's fuel system was safe and said the crash
was the fault of a drunken driver. He said theMalibu wassitting
still at a stop light when it was hit by a car going 70 mph. The
plaintiffs' attorneys estimated that car was going50 mph.
Coleman Thorton, foreman of the jury, said the panel based its
decision on the amount GM spent on advertisingduring the yearsthat
it built cars with gas tanks that he called dangerous.
``We figured that if they had no regard for the lives of people in
their cars, they should be held liable for it,'' he said.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs argued that the gas tank was placed too
close to the rear bumper and better designs wouldhave placedit
over the axle or incorporated a shield. They said GM's own study
showed that the cost of settling lawsuits arisingfrom accidents in
which victims were fatally burned was $2.40 per car. Plaintiffs'
attorney Brian Panish said theproblem could have been fixedfor
``GM had numerous failures in their crash tests, but chose to
leave the tank where it was because changing it wouldhave
cost$8.59,'' he said.
Tanks were mounted in unsafe positions, 11 inches from the rear
bumper, in the Chevrolet Malibu and El Camino,the PontiacGrand Am
and Oldsmobile Cutlass from 1979 to 1983, he said. The current
Malibu is a vastly different design fromthe 1979model.
GM was aware that its study, performed in 1973 by GM engineer E.C.
Ivey, could cause problems if it becamepublic, or if Iveywere
called to testify, as he did in this case.
``Obviously Ivey is not an individual whom we would ever, in any
conceivable situation, want to be identified to theplaintiffs in
(an accident) case,'' said a 1981 Oldsmobile memo that Panish
distributed to reporters. ``The documentshe generated are
undoubtedlysome of the potentially most harmful and most damaging
were they ever to be produced.''
Tigner and the Andersons were driving to a store to buy candy
after attending church services on Christmas Evewhen their
1979Malibu was struck from behind and exploded in flames in South
Central Los Angeles.
``I just remember getting out of the church and going to the store
and falling asleep,'' said Ms. Anderson's daughter,Alisha
Parker,now 11. ``It's been tough.''
Tom Harrison, publisher of Lawyers Weekly USA, said the GM award
is the largest product-liability and the largestpersonal-injury
verdict in the nation's history.
But the enormous punitive award is unlikely to stand on appeal,
Harrison said. Even with awards in the tens ofmillions of dollars,
itis rare for a plaintiff to actually get anything close to the
jury's verdict, he said.
George Priest, a professor at Yale Law School, also predicted the
verdict would be overturned.
``It certainly tells us our punitive damage regime is rudderless.
That is, juries simply don't have a way of rationallyfiguring
Ford Motor Co. was involved in similar litigation in 1970s and
'80s over the placement of the gas tank in its FordPinto.
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