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GM LOSES MAJOR LAWSUIT FOR PARAPLEGIC LAP BELT INJURY; PRESS BRIEFING SCHEDULED

 GM LOSES MAJOR LAWSUIT FOR PARAPLEGIC LAP BELT INJURY;
 PRESS BRIEFING SCHEDULED
 The Institute for Injury Reduction issued the following:
 General Motors has lost a major suit brought by the family of a West Virginia boy rendered paraplegic for life by a rear lap belt due to the absence of a rear lap-shoulder belt during the frontal crash of a 1978 Chevrolet in which he was riding.
 The release at trial of 1968 GM test films, showing that the manufacturer knew lap belts were hazardous even that long ago, is believed to have played an important role in the verdict.
 The car company, which up to now reportedly has settled hundreds of suits for rear lap belt deaths and injuries without challenge, apparently targeted the West Virginia case for victory against the injured boy's family. GM did not offer to settle the case at any point prior to or during the trial, which concluded near Wheeling, W.Va., earlier this month.
 IIR will hold a briefing for the press to describe this landmark case, introduce the injury victim and his family and attorney, and demand that GM begin an aggressive campaign to equip as many of its existing cars as possible with rear lap-shoulder belts before more young people are killed or disabled.
 At least 2,500 deaths and injuries each year would be prevented if all GM cars on the roads had rear lap-shoulder belts and they were used. This is an area where GM's much-touted "safety leadership" could make a big difference.
 Time and Place: 10 a.m., Wednesday, Aug. 19, Lisagor Room, National Press Club, 14th and F streets N.W., Washington.
 Participants: GM lap belt injury case plaintiffs and attorney; Ben Kelley, IIR; Dr. John Toerge, National Rehabilitation Hospital, who testified in the lawsuit.
 IIR will release 3/4-inch dubs of the GM 1968 lap-belt crash test footage shown at the trial.
 CONTACT: Cindy Raffles of the Institute for Injury Reduction, 301-249-0090.
 -0- 8/17/92


CO: Institute for Injury Reduction; General Motors ST: West Virginia, District of Columbia IN: AUT SU:

MH -- DC013 -- 0527 08/17/92 12:47 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Aug 17, 1992
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