Special Appeals Court overturns $4 million verdict against Nissan

Family sued company, saying design was faulty

November 05, 1999|By Joan Jacobson | Joan Jacobson,SUN STAFF

The state's second-highest court has overturned a $4 million verdict by a Baltimore County jury last year, which found that a defectively designed steering column on a Nissan pickup truck caused the death of a Carroll County man who died in a 1994 crash.

The Court of Special Appeals ruled yesterday that evidence presented by lawyers for the family of crash victim Donald A. Nave failed to prove the design defect.

The family's lawyers presented testimony during the trial showing that the steering column should have collapsed like a telescope on impact during the accident, but instead severed Nave's aorta, killing him instantly.

Nissan, however, brought engineers to testify that the steering column design was "state of the art" and surpassed car safety standards.

Nissan's lawyer, Joel A. Dewey, said yesterday that the decision shows that "speculation" and "junk science" claiming a design defect was not enough evidence to prove the Naves' case.

Brooks Leahy, lawyer for the family, said "we're disappointed" in the decision.

He said he believed he produced sufficient evidence of a flawed design and will ask the Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, to consider the case.

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