A Florida jury has ordered auto maker Mitsubishi to pay $11 million in compensatory damages to a couple whose son was killed after being partially ejected from the Montero sport utility vehicle that rolled over, the Orlando Sentinel reports. The lawsuit brought against Mitsubishi by Donna and Peter Laliberte, alleged that the carmaker put its Montero SUV on the market in spite of knowing about problems with the seatbelt.
Their 25-year-old son, Scott, was thrown backward through the rear window in the SUV rollover crash, which occurred nearly four years ago. Scott was a passenger in the vehicle and was reportedly wearing his seatbelt. Jurors were convinced after attorneys argued that Mitsubishi took the unprecedented step of releasing a new version of the Montero halfway through the 2000 model year to fix those problems. But Mitsubishi officials never told consumers about the seatbelt defect in their earlier model.
Attorneys for the auto maker still denied that, which is typical. However, they did acknowledge that the changes in the Montero happened because of “poor crash test results,” the newspaper reported. Jurors awarded the couple $10 million for pain and suffering and the rest for funeral expenses and losses. The newspaper also reported that the trial was emotional for jurors and that many of them embraced the couple teary-eyed after the verdict.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time Mitsubishi has been accused of covering up its defects. Scandal after scandal both here in the United States and in Japan have shown that the company has been involved in hiding its product defects and then secretly repairing them without proper recalls. Numerous reports of accidents, injuries and fatalities have been associated with these defective products.
This is a sad story and there are no winners. The couple will return the $11 million in a heartbeat if they can have their son back. But that’s never going to happen. And that’s what manufacturers of these defective products fail to realize when they put these dangerous vehicles on the market. All they see are dollar signs, not the pain, suffering and loss that is caused by their negligence and lack of concern for the consumer.
We hope this verdict offers some comfort and consolation to the parents and serves as a reminder to all product manufacturers that they cannot get away with shoving flawed, dangerous product down consumers’ throats – at least not all the time.