AMERICAN SUZUKI MOTOR CORPORATION RESPONSE TO JURY VERDICT IN RODRIGUEZ vs. SUZUKI MOTOR CORP.
Suzuki is shocked that the jury in this case awarded compensatory and punitive damages for the plaintiff.
This motor vehicle accident was a tragedy and Suzuki sympathizes with the plaintiff and her family. Unfortunately, due to rulings of the court, the jurors never heard some of the most important evidence in this case, resulting in a serious injustice to Suzuki.
There was no due process in this case because the court prevented the jury from hearing the complete evidence about the accident, including information that the driver of the vehicle, the plaintiff and key eyewitnesses had been drinking at a local winery just prior to the accident. This prevented the jury from thoroughly judging the credibility of the driver, the plaintiff, and key eyewitnesses and from assessing the complete facts surrounding the accident.
The trial court also prevented Suzuki from introducing evidence about the significant role of alcohol-impaired drivers as a leading cause of rollover accidents.
Suzuki strongly defends the Samurai as a safe, stable vehicle. In support of this, some of the world's leading automotive experts testified on behalf of Suzuki, including Tony Rudd, former Engineering Director of Lotus in Great Britain, and Cale Yarborough of NASCAR racing fame.
Former National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Administrator Jerry Curry and Dr. Mark Edwards, the former chief of NHTSA's mathematical analysis division, also testified on behalf of Suzuki, defending the integrity of NHST's 1988 decision denying petitions for a defect investigation relating to the Samurai.
According to Suzuki's General Counsel, George Ball:
"This verdict highlights the need for tort reform in this country, since the jury did not have all relevant facts surrounding this accident and did not have information on the role of alcohol-impaired drivers in causing rollovers before judging the Samurai and rendering huge damages awards.
"The Suzuki Samurai is an appropriately designed and thoroughly tested sport/utility vehicle and its safety record is better than many other popular sport/utility vehicles.
"Suzuki intends to appeal this case and we are confident that this matter will be reversed when the appellate court considers all of the facts and rulings in this case.
"Suzuki remains confident in its appeal -- particularly since this plaintiff's counsel's last verdict against an automotive manufacturer -- ($100 million against GM) was reversed when the appellate court had an opportunity to consider the key issues."
/CONTACT: Barbara Ponce of Rogers & Associates, 818-248-1273 (7/9 only), or pager (7/9), 818-607-0307, or 310-552-6922, ext. 137/
CO: American Suzuki Motor Corporation ST: Missouri IN: AUT SU:
TM -- NY001 -- 2603 07/09/95 15:01 EDT
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|Date:||Jul 9, 1995|
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