Jury Returns $122 Million Verdict Against GM

posted on:
May 3, 2002


A jury ordered General Motors to pay $122 million in a lawsuit alleging a defective door was to blame for the severe brain injuries suffered by a 12-year-old boy in a car wreck.

An Alabama law limiting punitive damages automatically cuts the award to $82 million, said GM spokesman Jay Cooney. He said the car’s design met or exceeded every federal safety standard, and the automaker will appeal.

Thursday’s verdict stemmed from a two-vehicle collision in 1999. Jeffrey Jernigan 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, said plaintiff’s lawyer Jere Beasley.

The boy’s father sued GM, contending the car was defective.

“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 verdict consisted of $22 million in compensatory damages and $100 million in punitive damages.

Beasley said the money will help the family care for the boy for the rest of his life.

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