Beasley Allen lawyers have sued Toyota Motor Corporation on behalf of Tara Bennett, an Alabama woman who was severely injured after a defective door and door latch failed to protect her during an auto crash last October. Bennett was partially ejected after the door and its latching system failed and then pinned to the ground by her 2003 Lexus 470LX. Bennet is represented by Beasley Allen attorneys Greg Allen, the firm’s lead products liability attorney, and Evan Allen, along with Shane Seaborn of Penn & Seaborn, LLC.

“Toyota failed Ms. Bennett on multiple occasions, leading to her severe and permanent injuries, and we are honored to represent her as she seeks to hold it and other defendants accountable,” said Greg Allen. “The defendants failed to properly test the door and door latch system – a system that is critical to a vehicle’s occupants – before placing it on the market. It again failed our client and other consumers when it refused to warn them that the door and door latch system had proven to be dangerously defective.”

While traveling in Georgia, Bennett’s vehicle left the road, forcing her to lose control of the vehicle. It rolled over before coming to a stop. During the rollover event, the driver door opened and Bennett was partially ejected. When the vehicle came to a stop, it was on top of Bennet, pinning her lower body beneath its weight and the ground and causing severe, traumatic injuries to her legs and feet.

The complaint alleges that the design of Bennett’s vehicle and other Toyota vehicles was “unreasonably dangerous” and increases the risk of injury and death to occupants of the vehicles. The door and door latch system present an unreasonable risk of unlatching and leading to the result Bennett experienced and likely even graver outcomes. The complaint notes that the risk is highly likely to occur in rollover crashes such as Bennett’s. It also explains that “the Defendants had actual knowledge that people were being injured from the vehicle’s doors opening in rollover events” even before Bennett’s crash. Yet, they failed to warn prospective owners, users or occupants, including Bennett, of the dangers posed by the defective door and door latch system.

The plaintiff further alleges that the defendants failed to adequately test the vehicle and that “[a]lternative designs existed for doors and door latches, which were safer, more practical, and were both economically and technologically feasible that would have prevented Bennett’s injuries.”

The plaintiff is also suing Springhill Automotive Inc., because it “improperly installed, inspected, and or failed to inspect the subject door latch system in Mobile County, Alabama, when it serviced and sold the subject vehicle.”

The case was filed in the Circuit Court of Mobile County, Alabama, case number 02-CV-2020-901479.00.

Auto products liability litigation

Lawyers in our firm’s Personal Injury & Product Liability Section handle cases involving catastrophic injuries and deaths arising out of any type of accident, including car crashes, 18-wheeler accidents, industrial accidents and workplace accidents. Potential products liability claims are often overlooked by some lawyers when investigating what many view as routine accidents. In many motor vehicle crashes, some defect – either design or manufacturing – played a major role in causing the accident. An auto products liability claim is usually based on a design defect, a manufacturing defect, a failure to warn or a combination of the three.

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