Bessemer jury returns $9.9 million verdict to families impacted by Mazda fire

posted on:
October 20, 2014


MONTGOMERY, ALA. (October 20, 2014) – A Bessemer, Ala., jury returned a $6 million verdict in favor of Plaintiffs Sydney McLemore and a $3.9 million verdict for John and Barbara Hurst in a case against Mazda Motor Corporation. Benjamin E. Baker, a lawyer with Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis and Miles, P.C., represented Sydney McLemore, who was burned over 15 percent of her body when the 2008 Mazda 3 sedan she was driving was involved in a crash and caught fire. Attorneys Bruce Petway, Janet Olsen, and A.W. Bolt represented John and Barbara Hurst, whose daughter Natalie Hurst was killed in the fire when she was trapped in the burning vehicle.

The complaint alleged the vehicle was defectively designed with the fuel tank placed adjacent to a hard metal muffler with a sharp edge and no proper shield. As a result, the crash resulted in a ruptured fuel tank and a fuel-fed fire. The complaint alleged Mazda should have been aware that this design would lead to the likelihood of a post-collision fuel-fed fire and posed an unreasonable risk to vehicle occupants.

“Mazda designed the 2008 Mazda 3 in violation of industry standards by placing the muffler next to an unguarded fuel tank,” Baker said. “Because Mazda chose not to follow industry standards, Sidney was seriously burned and required multiple painful skin grafts and Natalie lost her life. All of this could have been avoided if Mazda placed the safety of its customers first.”

The trial lasted three weeks, under the direction of Judge Eugene Verin in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County, Ala., Bessemer Division. The case is John Hurst et al v. Mazda Motor of America, Inc. et al, 68-CV-2012-900498.00.

Read the complaint.

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