A Bullock County jury awarded a $122 million verdict to Wilbert Jernigan, Bullock County Circuit Clerk, who filed a lawsuit on behalf of his sone, Jeffrey Jernigan, against General Motors Corporation. On December 10, 1999, 12-year-old Jeffrey Jernigan was riding in the front seart of an Oldsmobile Delta 88 when it was involved in a collision with another vehicle. As a result of the 35-40 mph collision, Jeffrey, who was properly seat belted, suffered sever and permanent brain injuries when the passenger compartment of the Oldsmobile Delta failed and collapsed in on him.
The Oldsmobile was defective and dangerous because the passenger compartment unreasonably failed to protect Jeffrey from harm, his attorney contended. General Motors Corporation allegedly knew of numerous design defects and failed to warn the public of the hazards associated with the vehicle’s use. According to testimony, General Motor’s own testing confirmed the defects. Due to the accident, Jeffrey is permanently disabled and disfigured.
Montgomery Attorneys Jere Beasley and Greg Allen of the Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles law firm, along with Walter McGowan of Tuskegee and Lynn Jinks of Union Springs, represented the Jernigan family.
Atty. Beasley stated, “Jeffrey Jernigan suffered a severe brain injury that required the removal of a portion of his brain. He will require lifetime care and attention with a life expectancy of 60 years. The verdict was justified. GM gambled when they made the design changes, knew the likelihood of severe brain injury was likely and took the risk.”
Jeffrey’s mother said after the verdict was returned, “I would return GM’s money today if I could only have my son back.”
Greg Allen was lead attorney in the case. GM has said it will appeal.