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Case No.: BC141466
Los Angeles County, California Superior Court
Livendale V. Honda

PLAINTIFF'S ATTORNEYS: Raymond Paul Johnson, Esq.
Donn W. Christensen, Esq.
Law Offices of Raymond Paul Johnson
10990 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1150
Los Angeles, CA 90024
(310) 246-9300
Lewis, D'Amato, Brisbois & Bisgaard
221 North Figueroa Street, Suite 1200
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 250-1800

Derek S. Whitefield, Esq.
Lyn Finateri, Esq.
Grace, Genson, Cosgrove & Schirm
444 S. Flower Street, Suite 1100
Los Angeles, CA 90071-2912
(213) 533-5400

PLAINTIFF'S LIABILITY EXPERTS: Mr. Harry Krueper (Accident Reconstructionist)
Krueper Engineering
568 N. Mountainview Avenue, 2nd Floor
San Bernardino, CA 92401

Anthony Sances, Jr., Ph.D. (Biomechanical Engineer)
Biomechanics Institute
3202 Campanil Drive
Santa Barbara, CA 93109

Richard W. Lund, Ph.D. (Failure Analysis Expert/Metallurgist)
6164 Windlestraw Road
Placerville, CA 95667

Mark Pozzi (Seat Expert)
Sandia Safety Sciences
8 Paul Road
Cedar Crest, NM 87008

DEFENSE'S LIABILITY EXPERTS: Andrew Levitt (Accident Reconstructionist)
David Blaisdell (Seat Design Expert)
Collision Research & Analysis, Inc.
430 Madrid Avenue
Torrance, CA 90501

Gary J. Fowler, Ph.D. (Metallurgist)
Fowler, Inc.
13707 Cimarron Avenue
Gardena, CA 90249

James H. Raddin, M.D. (Biomechanical Engineer)
Biodynamic Research
9901 IH-10 West, Suite 1000
San Antonio, TX 78230

Robert Gratzinger (Vehicle Structures)
Gratzinger Engineering & Consultants
3 Valley View
Irvine, CA 92612

TYPE OF CASE: Product Liability/Driver's Seat Yield/Break
DATE OF ACCIDENT: January 3, 1995
ACCIDENT LOCATION: La Tuna Canyon Road, Los Angeles, California
PRODUCT INVOLVED: 1994 Honda Civic
FACTS: On January 3, 1995, plaintiff Stormy Livendale was traveling in her 1994 Honda Civic westbound on La Tuna Canyon Road in Los Angeles, California. It was raining and Stormy's Honda Civic hydroplaned on the slick roadway, spun 180° and crossed over into the opposing traffic lane. Her car was then hit in the rear by a Hyundai Elantra proceeding eastbound.

The closing speeds between the vehicles approximated 50 mph. The Delta-V to the Honda Civic was 26 to 27 miles per hour.

Stormy Livendale was wearing her provided seatbelt; however, during the collision the hinge bracket on the right side of her driver's seat failed. Stormy suffered a severe head injury during the collision and remained in a coma for several weeks.

CONTENTIONS OF THE PARTIES: Plaintiffs contended that the driver's seat of the 1994 Honda Civic was defectively designed. In particular, the metal bracket that connected the seat bottom to the seat back had fractured due to alleged weakness. Plaintiff further contended that as a result of the seat fracture she was thrown into the right rear of the vehicle where she suffered her head injury by striking the vehicle interior below the right rear window. In addition, plaintiffs alleged that the seat and seatbelt combination failed to comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 209 which requires that the lap belt remain on the pelvic area during collisions.

Honda asserted that in such a violent rear-end collision their seats are designed to yield fully back to the rear-seat area in order to absorb collision energy. According to defendant, Stormy's driver's seat functioned just as designed and assisted her in surviving this crash. Honda further alleged that the cause of plaintiff's head injury was not the seat fracture, but rather impact with the center post (B-pillar) of the vehicle before the seat back broke. Defendant pointed to an indentation on the center post and asserted that Stormy's head hit this area due to rotation on the roadway and the collision with the Hyundai. Plaintiffs contended that the indentation on the center post was caused when the metal frame inside the headrest of the driver's seat struck the center post after the seat back broke.

HISTORY OF THE TRIAL AND SETTLEMENT: The case was tried in the Burbank division of the Los Angeles Superior Court before the Honorable Carl J. West beginning February 22, 1999. The trial had been bifurcated into liability and damages phases. After selection of the jury, opening statements, and the presentation of three percipient witnesses and the direct testimony of plaintiff's failure analysis expert, Dr. Richard Lund, the case was settled for a confidential amount.
TRIAL COURT: The Honorable Carl J. West
Los Angeles County Superior Court, North Central District—Burbank
Case No. BC 141466
TRIAL DATE: February 22, 1999
SETTLEMENT DATE: February 24, 1999.
PRIOR MEDIATION(S)/ ARBITRATION(S): Two mediations were held before trial, neither resulting in settlement. Just before trial, defendant served a C.C.P. § 998 Offer to Settle at $300,000. Earlier in the litigation, plaintiff had made a Statutory Offer to Compromise under C.C.P. § 998 for $2,800,000.

Earlier in the case there had also been a dangerous condition of public property claim against the City of Los Angeles related to the roadway, La Tuna Canyon Road. In February of 1996 that portion of the case settled for $1.1 million and pay-off of a $465,000 medical lien.

Settlement Summary Prepared by:    Raymond Paul Johnson
Law Offices of Raymond Paul Johnson
10990 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1150
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Representing:  Plaintiff
Date:  May 18, 2000

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