Hyundai Reclining Seat Kills Teen, Carmaker to Pay $1.8M Damages

In what is a premiere for both the automotive industry and the American judicial system, a federal jury in San Angelo found a reclining seat in a 2005 Hyundai Tucson to be at fault for the death of a passenger.

In July 2007, 19-year old Sarah Goodner was taking a nap in the Hyundai Tucson's front passenger seat, wearing the seat belt lap and shoulder restraint, when the car rolled over on a West Texas highway.

According to the evidence presented in court, the car's lap seat belt failed to prevent the victim from sliding out from under it when the seat was fully reclined.

The jury found that a defect in a reclining seat can kill a passenger, when the car is involved in an accident, even if they wear the seat belt. As a result, the jury slapped Hyundai with a 1.8 million dollar damage verdict.

The case was prompted Dallas injury attorney Todd Tracy to warn, once more, about the dangers of using reclining seats.

"The automobile industry and auto dealerships advertise reclining seats as an inexpensive luxury accessory for passenger comfort on the road and highway," the lawyer believes.

"They tell car buyers that the family can lay back, rest, and even sleep. But for dozens of years there's been growing evidence that reclining seats kill or cause severe injury such as paralysis in car accidents."

Famous for his involvement in the Dimitrios Biller vs. Toyota scandal of last year, Tracy goes even further and accuses Hyundai of insulting the jury's intelligence.

"Hyundai insulted the jury's intelligence by claiming that its reclining seat was only supposed to be used when the car was not moving and by blaming the dead car accident passenger for not reading fine print in the owner's manual."

"Hyundai has failed to use available accident safety technology that would prevent reclining seats from being tilted back more than a 45-degree angle. Hyundai could also have saved a life with a system currently used by another automobile company that automatically returns a reclining seat to the upright position in the event of a car accident."
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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