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California Auto Defects Lawyers File Product Liability Lawsuit Against General Motors

Los Angeles, CA (Vocus) January 28, 2010

The California personal injury attorneys of BISNAR CHASE (www.BestAttorney.com)] have filed a product liability injury lawsuit against General Motors Corporation and Sexton Chevrolet of Manteca, California. The suit alleges that the 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe manufactured by General Motors and sold by Sexton Chevrolet failed to properly protect Wendy Leigh Yates during an October 2007 rear-end crash that caused her to suffer severe head injuries when her defective seatback collapsed during the rear-end collision. The action was brought against the aforementioned defendants by Wendy Leigh Yates, her husband Gavin Yates and their daughter, Brittney Sue Marie Yates, who also suffered severe personal injuries in the crash. "We're alleging that General Motors Corporation and Sexton Chevrolet manufactured, marketed, sold and failed to inspect and warn Ms. Yates and her daughter of the vehicle's defective and unsafe seatback and restraint system," said John Bisnar of the BISNAR CHASE Los Angeles Auto Products Liability Law Firm. The lawsuit is pending in the Superior Court of California, County of Stanislaus, case # 631824.

Alleged Unsafe Seatback Fails, Causes Severe and Permanent Brain Injury

According to court records, Wendy Leigh Yates was a properly restrained front-seat passenger in a 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe driven by her daughter, Brittney Yates. They were traveling southbound on the off-ramp from State Route 99 to Beckwith Road in Modesto, California on October 18, 2007. As the Tahoe was slowing, it was rear-ended by another vehicle. The rear-end collision caused Wendy's seat to break and collapse rearward, permitting her body to submarine backward and underneath her seat belt and shoulder restraints. As a result, her head struck the rear passenger compartment, causing multiple skull fractures, seizures and a catastrophic permanent brain injury. Brittney Yates also suffered from severe personal injuries in the crash.

Suit Alleges That GM Was Aware That Its Seats, Seatbacks and Seat Belts Were Unsafe and Defective

The lawsuit further claims that General Motors knew that Wendy's vehicle's seatbacks were too weak and were incapable of withstanding foreseeable, modest rear-end impacts at closure speeds as low as 30 miles per hour without collapsing and causing catastrophic injuries to properly-restrained occupants based on results from prior car accidents, lawsuits and its own in-house testing, and from mandatory pre-production fuel system integrity tests required by law to be conducted under the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS).

What's more, the suit alleges that not only did General Motors know the vehicle's seat and seatback were unsafe, but it also knew the vehicle had a defective seat belt system too, since the system failed to properly restrain Wendy in the event of a foreseeable rear impact, allowing her body to submarine out from underneath the seat belt, ramp over the seatback and strike her head in the rear compartment of the vehicle, causing catastrophic injuries to her head.

The lawsuit further alleges that despite the availability of simple methods to correct seatback defects, as recommended on information and belief by GMC's own automotive engineers, such as metallurgically stronger recliners, dual recliners, stronger seatback frames and belt-integrated seats, and in spite of the known risk of serious and fatal head injuries, spinal injuries and occupant ejection, GMC chose to ignore the inherent safety problems and took no action to prevent such debilitating injuries and deaths, because of concerns about increased production costs, reduced profits, loss of customer confidence, loss of sales and bad publicity.

In 1976, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) enacted FMVSS 301, which required that all automakers selling automobiles in the U.S. conduct documented, filmed and/or videotaped rear-end barrier impact crash testing of all of their vehicle platforms, to ensure proper fuel system integrity during such accidents. The films of these FMVSS 301 tests reveal that most, if not all, of GMC's vehicles' front seatbacks in cars manufactured since the 301 tests were first required, failed and collapsed backward causing test dummies inside to strike the rear seats of its vehicles during rear-end impact tests.

The lawsuit alleges that, despite knowledge of these ongoing problems, General Motors knowingly and purposefully designed, manufactured and installed, and continued to design, manufacture, and install unsafe and defective passenger seats which it knew would cause death or serious injuries to front seat occupants in foreseeable and statistically inevitable rear-end impacts, and as a result, knowingly and deliberately exposed properly-restrained occupants of their vehicles to the risks of death and serious injuries resulting from rear-end impacts.

The action seeks economic damages for Wendy and her daughter, who each suffered severe bodily injuries resulting in past and future medical expenses, past lost earnings, loss of earning capacity and general damages for past and future pain and suffering. The action also seeks economic damages for loss of consortium for Gavin Yates, who was harmed as a result of the injuries to his wife.


The BISNAR CHASE law firm's Los Angeles personal injury attorneys represent people who have been very seriously injured or lost a family member due to an accident, defective product or negligence throughout California. The law firm has won a wide variety of auto defect cases against most of the major auto manufacturers, including Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Nissan and Chrysler. Get a complimentary copy of Mr. Chase's auto defect book, "Still Unsafe at Any Speed: Auto Defects that Cause Wrongful Deaths and Catastrophic Injuries."

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