Jury Returns $122 Million Verdict Against GM in Crash

posted on:
May 3, 2002


A jury returned a $122 million verdict against General Motors Corp. over a car wreck that left a child with severe brain injuries.

An Alabama law limiting punitive damages automatically cuts the award to $82 million, GM spokesman Jay Cooney said. He said the company will appeal.

Thursday’s verdict stemmed from a two-vehicle collision on Dec. 10, 1999. Jeffrey Jernigan, then 12, was in the front seat of a 1993 Oldsmobile Delta 88 with his seat belt on when the passenger compartment of the car collapsed on him, leaving him with severe brain injuries, said plaintiffs lawyer Jere Beasley.

The boy’s father, Wilbert Jernigan, sued GM, contending the car was defective and dangerous.

"GM put a cost reduction program into effect prior to the manufacture and sale of the

Oldsmobile, which resulted in significant safety problems," Beasley said.

The jury’s award included $22 million in compensatory damages and $100 million in

punitive damages. Beasley said the money would help the family care for the boy for the

rest of his life.

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