A Decisive Victory in a Case of Sudden Acceleration of a Motor Vehicle

Client: A major automobile manufacturer

Type of Case: Sudden acceleration of a passenger vehicle

Background: A 78-year-old driver alleged that when exiting a driveway a sudden acceleration event occurred, causing the car to travel approximately 750 feet and crash into a tree. One passenger died; all other occupants suffered multiple fractures and lacerations.

Suit Filed: Plaintiffs alleged that defective design of the automobile’s cruise-control system led to the death, personal injuries and emotional distress. This allegation was supported using the “transient signal theory” proffered by the well-known plaintiff’s expert, Sam Sero.

Action Strategy: Aaronson Rappaport’s trial team attacked the plaintiffs’ claims on several fronts. First, the defense soundly discredited the “transient signal theory” by showing that it is not accepted by the scientific/engineering community and that Sero’s findings have never been duplicated. Next, the defense team pointed to physical evidence—the driver’s injuries coupled with markings and damage within the car—to demonstrate that the driver was on the accelerator at the time of impact.

Result: An outright victory for our client. The court dismissed the punitive damages claim at the close of the plaintiffs’ case, and following a seven-week trial, the jury found for the defense on all other claims.