Adaptive Driving System Provider Victorious Against Catastrophic Injury Claims January 2016

Despite the challenges of a complex and technical fact pattern, an aggressive and contentious plaintiff’s attorney/expert witness duo, and a multimillion-dollar demand, Goldberg Segalla’s Product Liability Practice Group secured the complete summary judgment dismissal of all claims against one of the nation’s leading providers of adaptive driving solutions.

Brian T. Stapleton led the defense in this total victory in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, with help from partner Frank J. Ciano.

In this case, the plaintiff was driving a van that had been modified by our client with immensely sophisticated electronic controls designed to enable disabled people to drive. The plaintiff lost control of the van, drove off the road, and struck a tree at 35 m.p.h. The collision resulted in catastrophic personal injuries, including a comminuted pelvic fracture, which can be among the most serious orthopedic injuries to treat. After eight unsuccessful surgery attempts to repair the plaintiff’s hips, with medical bills totaling $700,000, he was left with severe and permanent limitations.

Our client faced claims of negligence, strict products liability, failure to warn, fraud, and breach of warranty, along with an engineer expert witness who proffered speculative and unfounded opinions in support of the plaintiff’s claims. But, as the result of our thorough factual and technical investigation and unyielding examination of the combative engineer over the course of two depositions, our team developed a strong fact pattern in support of a detailed and extensive motion. This motion sought to strike the plaintiff’s expert’s opinions under Daubert and asked the court for summary judgment dismissal of all claims against our client on the basis of product misuse, ignorance of warnings, and contributory negligence.

After hearing extended oral arguments, the court granted all our motions to dismiss and denied all the plaintiff’s motions — resulting in a complete defense victory that saves our client the expense and risk of having to go to trial. To underscore the defense victory for the record, even though it was not required for the presiding judge to make his decision, the court took the extra step of striking the engineer’s testimony for being unscientific and unreliable.