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$124.5 Million Awarded to Family of Texas Student in Vehicle Seatback Failure Case

Wigington Rumley Dunn & Blair, L.L.P. (PRNewsFoto/Wigington Rumley Dunn & Blair,)
Wigington Rumley Dunn & Blair, L.L.P. (PRNewsFoto/Wigington Rumley Dunn & Blair,)

SAN ANTONIO, Texas, March 8, 2016

A Bexar County, Texas, jury has awarded $124.5 million to the family of an 11-year-old boy who received critical head injuries four years ago, when the driver’s seat of his father’s Audi A4 collapsed in a rear-end collision.  The verdict was returned March 2, 2016 in San Antonio, Texas.

The jury found Audi AG and Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., were mostly responsible for the accident, and awarded a total of $124,496,993.97 to the family of Jessie Rivera, Jr., who sustained catastrophic injuries including severe brain damage, partial paralysis and blindness. Evidence in the case showed that the 11-year-old boy was injured when the car in which he was a passenger was struck from behind, and the seatback of the driver, the boy’s father, unexpectedly collapsed, fell backward, and the father’s body struck the boy in the head.

A case, involving similar issues, is now being litigated against Audi and Volkswagen in California. The problem of seatback failure has been well known for more than 20 years. On Feb. 16, 1992, the CBS program “60 Minutes” aired a report on the issue of seatback failure. In rear-end collisions, seatbacks – not airbags or other restraint systems – are the primary protection for injury.

The family was represented in court by the law firm of Wigington Rumley Dunn and Blair of Corpus Christi, Texas, which has focused its practice on automotive defects, as well as by The Law Offices of Fidel Rodriquez Jr. of San Antonio.

“This type of automobile defect has been known about for more than 20 years,” said Jeff Wigington, a senior partner with the Wigington Rumley firm. “When ’60 Minutes’ aired its report, the safety standards then in effect were essentially the same as they are today. Clearly this case – and many others across the country – shows the need for tougher, upgraded safety standards. All consumers, but especially parents, should be pressing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as well as Congress, to strengthen these standards and protect drivers and passengers.  We all can understand how a serious injury can result from a major accident. But none of us anticipates a serious injury from this type of accident.  This is a tragedy that should never have happened.”

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SAN ANTONIO, Texas, March 8, 2016 /PRNewswire/ —