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The plaintiff, along with her mother, sues a car manufacturer for so-called "enhanced" injuries sustained by her when the Volkswagen microbus in which she was riding crashed into a telephone pole. The microbus had passed the crest of a small hill and was proceeding down the grade at the time of the accident. When the vehicle passed the crest of the hill, the driver noted that his speed was about 40 miles an hour. As the vehicle continued down the hill, the bus began "picking up some speed, a little too much." To reduce his speed, the driver attempted to downshift the vehicle. Because he had some difficulty in locating the gearshift lever, the driver took his "eyes off the road" and in some way "pulled the steering wheel" causing the vehicle to veer "to the right" into "the driveway". The plaintiff screamed, causing the driver to look up. As the driver did, he "saw a telephone pole headed right toward us". He tried to cut back into the road but there "was an oncoming vehicle the other way, so it was either the telephone pole or another vehicle." He chose the telephone pole. The bus hit the pole on its right front. The plaintiff was seated in the center of the seat, next to the driver, with her left leg under her. As a result of the impact, her right leg was caught between the back of the seat and the dashboard of the van and she was apparently thrown forward. She sustained severe injuries to her ankle and femur. She seeks to recover for her injuries, and her mother for medical expenses, from the vehicle manufacturer, contending that the latter was guilty of negligent design in the location of the gearshift in its vehicle and in the want of crashworthiness of its vehicle. The action was tried without a jury. The District Court dismissed the claim relating to the gearshift but concluded that the defendant manufacturer had been guilty of negligence in failing to use due care in the design of its vehicle by providing "sufficient energy-absorbing materials or devices or crush space, if you will, so that at 40 miles an hour the integrity of the passenger compartment would not be violated", and that, as a result, the injuries of the plaintiff were enhanced "over and above those injuries which the plaintiff might have incurred." From judgment entered on the basis of that conclusion in favor of the plaintiff and her mother, the defendants have appealed. We reverse.

Professional & Technical
14 January
LawApp Publishers
Innodata Book Distribution Services Inc

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