Case Study #4:

A case with a potentially sustainable value of $20 million is settled for a nominal sum

A major automobile manufacturer

Type of Case: Rollover of passenger van

Background: A 15-passenger van was traveling in upstate New York. After 10 hours of driving, the driver fell asleep and the van rolled down an embankment. One passenger was rendered a paraplegic; another passenger (a child) sustained permanent brain damage.

Suit Filed: Plaintiff alleged that defective design and manufacture of the vehicle and of automobile parts led to severe injuries. At issue in this case were the design of the vehicle’s door hinges and seat belt latches, the strength of its roof and the vehicle’s potential for rollover.

Client’s Concern: The personal injuries alleged by the plaintiff had a potentially sustainable value of $20 million. The plaintiff was also seeking a considerable punitive damages award.

Action Strategy: The firm sought to minimize the cost of a potential settlement by (a) clearly and repeatedly expressing to opposing counsel its strong belief in the defensibility of the case, and (b) showing a willingness to fight aggressively and expend resources in defense of the suit. Toward these goals, we repeatedly informed plaintiff’s counsel of our intent to file a motion for summary judgment and retained a bevy of experts to support such a motion.

Result: Plaintiff’s counsel made a series of early seven-figure settlement demands, all of which were rebuffed. Aaronson Rappaport’s work eventually allowed the client to settle the case for a nominal sum.