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Toyota ordered to pay US family US$242m for Lexus seat defect
[DALLAS] A Texas jury on Friday hit Toyota with a US$242 million verdict after finding that defects in the front seats of a 2002 Lexus ES300 caused serious injuries to a Dallas family's two young children during a rear-end collision in 2016.
The jury in state court in Dallas awarded US$144 million in punitive damages after finding Toyota Motor Corp and Toyota Motor Sales were grossly negligent in the matter, according to court papers. The jury found that the front seats were unreasonably dangerous and that the company didn't warn of the risk.
"While we respect the jury's decision, we remain confident that the injuries sustained were the result of factors specific to this very severe collision, not a defect in the design or manufacturing of the 2002 Lexus ES300," Eric Booth, a spokesman for Toyota, said in a statement.
"We will consider our options moving forward."
Frank Branson, an attorney for the family, said in a statement there were structural problems with the front seatbacks that protect front-seat passengers from injuries such as whiplash at the expense of rear-seat passengers.
"This is a danger that Toyota has known about," Mr Branson said.
"This company has had plenty of time to design around these safety shortcomings or at least provide the public with warnings. Our children deserve better."
The jury awarded the two children US$92 million for medical care, physical impairment and mental anguish, as well as other damages.
The case is Reavis v Toyota Motor Sales USA, DC-16-15296, 134th Judicial District, Dallas County, Texas.