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Pennsylvania Jury Awards $1.05 Billion in Mitsubishi Defective Seat Belt Case

Farrar & Ball, LLP prevails for master woodworker, now quadriplegic 

PHILADELPHIA – A unanimous jury in Philadelphia has found in favor of a man left quadriplegic when the seat belt in his Mitsubishi 3000 GT failed to protect him during a 2017 accident. The jury awarded almost $977 million, and with interest, the verdict surpasses one billion dollars.

The verdict on behalf of Francis Amagasu, 58, includes $176 million in compensatory damages and an additional $800 million in punitive damages. Attorneys in the case say the verdict is among the largest in Pennsylvania involving an automotive defect this year.

“Mr. Amagasu lives in a rehab facility now, but it may as well just be a prison cell,” says attorney Wes Ball of Farrar & Ball in Houston. “He’s in a 10 by 12 room and has had to re-learn how to speak. But he testified and the jury heard his voice, loud and clear.”

The accident happened in November 2017 as Mr. Amagasu was driving in Buckingham Township, Pennsylvania. As he attempted to maneuver around another vehicle, Mr. Amagasu’s car rolled over. Though he was wearing a seat belt, it was one made with a so-called “rip-stitch” design, in which the belt rips apart to, in theory, better manage the forces in a crash.

To enhance the jury’s understanding of the case, the team at Farrar & Ball produced animated videos as demonstrative evidence. These visuals played a crucial role in illustrating how a defective seat belt led to Mr. Amagasu’s life-altering injuries in the 2017 automobile accident. These informative videos played a pivotal role at the trial and are included below.

“But that design doesn’t work,” says attorney Kyle Farrar. “What happens is the seat belt intentionally tears apart and becomes four inches longer, making it easier for the person to move around and that’s what happened to Mr. Amagasu. His head was forced into the car’s roof, and he broke his neck.”

Prior to the accident, Mr. Amagasu was a master woodworker. Samples of work by his grandfather, artist George Nakashima, are on display in the Smithsonian.

In addition to lawyers from Farrar & Ball, Mr. Amagasu was represented by Daniel Sherry Jr., Nancy Winkler, and Jessica Colliver of Philadelphia-based Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck.

The case is Soomi Amagasu et al. v. Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc., case number 02406, in the Court of Common Pleas for Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania.

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