The Texas Appellate Court Dallas Fifth District Court of Appeals has affirmed a 2018 personal-injury verdict of more than $200 million against Toyota Motor Corp.
Texas Appellate Court: on behalf of a Dallas family whose two young children suffered severe, permanent brain damage due to product defects in the family’s Toyota-manufactured Lexus.
The appellate opinion found that evidence and arguments presented to jurors were sufficient to support the gross negligence verdict against Toyota. The court also found no fault with the jury’s actual and punitive damages awards.
In September 2016, Benjamin and Kristi Reavis were traveling south on North Central Expressway in Dallas with their 3-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter secured in child safety seats in the sedan’s back seat. Their car was stopped in traffic when it was rear-ended at 45 to 48 miles per hour. During that rear-end collision, the Lexus’s front seats yielded/bent backwards (as they were designed by Toyota to do), the Reavis parents moved up (ramped up) over the tops of their front seats, slipped out of their seatbelts (which failed to keep them in their seats), and launched headfirst into the back. The Reavis parents made violent head-to-head contact with their small children strapped in car seats.
“The Reavis family is gratified by the Fifth Court of Appeals’ validation of the actions of the jury and the trial judge,” said trial lawyer Frank Branson, founder of The Law Offices of Frank L. Branson. “This case was a needless tragedy for a special family, and we appreciate the Court’s clear understanding of the issues, the evidence, the arguments, and the verdict. The court’s opinion was well-reasoned and well-written.”
The Branson team included trial lawyer Debbie Dudley Branson, Chip Brooker and Eric Stahl. The Branson firm retained a Vinson & Elkins appellate group that included Marie Yeates, Harry Reasoner and Michael Heidler for the appeal. The case is Benjamin Thomas Reavis et al. v Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. et al., Cause No. DC-16-15296, in the 134th Judicial District in Dallas County.
The opinion notes that Toyota failed to perform crash tests for such collisions even though collisions of that type are reported more than 77,000 times a year. That decision “is evidence of conscious indifference to a known extreme degree of risk of potential harm to others,” the ruling states.
The Law Offices of Frank L. Branson maintains a reputation for courtroom excellence based on significant verdicts and settlements for clients in high-stakes personal injury litigation