The Washington State Supreme Court has ruled in an auto products liability case against Hyundai Motor Co. that the auto maker withheld evidence in a lawsuit over flawed seat design and should pay $8 million to a man who was rendered paraplegic in a car accident as a result of that auto product defect. According to a Bloomberg news report, the state’s high court reversed an appellate court ruling and reinstated a trial court’s judgment. The Olympia, Washington court, in its 7-2 ruling stated that the Korean auto maker tried to undermine the discovery of evidence in the 9-year-old case.
One of the Supreme Court justices said he hoped the ruling in addition to appropriately compensating the victim will also send a strong message to Hyundai and other corporations, deterring them from involving themselves in such “deliberate and willful discovery abuse.” The victim in this case sued Hyundai in 2000, three years after he was injured as a passenger in a Hyundai hatchback that went off the road. The victim was ejected from the rear window and claimed that his injuries were partly caused by design flaws in the seat, which collapsed during the crash. In 2006, the trial court found that Hyundai officials had falsely responded to the victim’s request for internal documents and police reports relating to previous accidents. The court found that this impeded the victim’s preparation for trial and undermined this important evidence.
In fact, what Hyundai did not tell the victim was that there were several claims of seat back failure. Hyundai officials were aware of these auto product defect claims, but lied to the victim stating that there were no seatback defect claims involving the 1995-1999 Hyundai Accent models. The appellate court ruled in favor of the auto maker, a decision that was overturned most recently by the Washington Supreme Court.
As Washington car accident lawyers, The Bernard Law Group has successfully handled numerous auto product liability cases against large auto makers. Stonewalling and sometimes, even deception, are tactics used by large corporations to dodge responsibility for their defective products. It is our duty and responsibility as Seattle personal injury attorneys to represent your best interests as consumers, fight for your rights and secure the compensation you rightfully deserve in your Seattle car accident case. Call Kirk Bernard and his dedicated legal team today for a free consultation and case evaluation.