Walton law firm files landmark case: Legal action seeks remedy for flawed auto seats by Chrysler, collision avoidance technology in Nissan/Infiniti made standard
An October 2017 auto crash on a Dallas expressway that resulted in an Uber driver being paralyzed for life has evolved into a state district court legal action with broad implications for expanding acceptable safety standards in both vehicle seat construction and the need for collision avoidance technology becoming standard equipment.
Uber driver Darius W. Lewis, 47, of Irving, was driving on Central Expressway the morning of Oct. 13 when he was struck from behind by a Dallas man driving a 2014 Infiniti. The front seat of Lewis’ 2013 Dodge Avenger snapped on impact, hurling him backward. The resultant injuries resulted in his becoming a paraplegic for life.
The co-filing attorneys are Rocky Walton and Leon Russell of Dallas.
“We’d like compensation for our client, of course, because of the severity of his injuries and the reality that he’ll need income and costly medical care for life,” Walton said. “Sadly, both the safety issues our legal action addresses are both relatively inexpensive fixes, for example, Congress recently held hearings on the front seat safety issue and determined that they can be made safer with very little additional cost.
Walton said there was slightly more than a 20-mph difference in the speed of the Infiniti and Lewis’ Dodge.
“That small difference shouldn’t have been enough to make the front seat back support snap,” Walton said.
The suit, filed Feb. 16 in state court (DC-18-02290), was filed against the driver of the Infiniti but also against FCA US LLC (formerly Chrysler Group, LLC) as well as Nissan Motor Company LTD, and Nissan North America Inc. Nissan manufactures the Infiniti. Chrysler manufactured Lewis’ Dodge Avenger.
Walton predicts it will be inevitable that collision avoidance equipment that is now optional in some care will become standard equipment, much like seat belts and impact bags.
“Most newer vehicles leave the assembly line already wired and require only some sensors and modest tweaking to become operational,” he said. “The failure to make such vital equipment standard issue in my opinion amounts to negligence.”