Aaronson Rappaport Takes on a Frivolous Litigant

Client: A major automobile manufacturer

Type of Case: Physical injury sustained while leaving a vehicle

Background: The driver of a 15-passenger van in the Bronx allegedly tore ligaments in her ankle while exiting from the vehicle. She required surgery.

Suit Filed: Plaintiff alleged that defective vehicle design (specifically, the lack of a step in the driver’s side door frame) led to physical injury. She claimed that the vehicle’s design had not taken into account the physical requirements of short people like her.

Client’s Concern: The automobile manufacturer considered this case to be frivolous and wanted to discourage other people from bringing similar frivolous cases against them in the future.

Action Strategy: The client wanted to win this case outright—even if the legal fees would exceed the cost of settling it. At the request of the client, we proceeded with this case as if it were a major product liability suit. Our thorough work-up included: (1) enlisting a biomechanical engineer to perform a videotaped surrogate study, (2) enlisting a mechanical engineer to examine the design of competing vehicles, and (3) lining up an array of expert medical witnesses to discount the plaintiff’s injury. The firm sent a clear message that it was prepared for trial and ready to win. The plaintiff responded by making a series of decreasing settlement demands. Aaronson Rappaport refused to negotiate. The case went to trial, and a jury was selected.

Result: On the first day of trial, the plaintiff withdrew all claims. This decisive victory sent a strong message to potential litigants that frivolous lawsuits would not be tolerated.