Retrial Means Two Wins for WTO

Juries found for a child seat manufacturer in 2012 and again in a remanded $15 million failure-to-warn claim

By Doug Chartier

LAW WEEK COLORADO

Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell won a design defect case for a child car seat maker in 2012, and when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit sent the case back to trial with a revived $15 million claim, the firm successfully defended against that, too.

On Dec. 15, a jury rendered a verdict in favor of Evenflo in a failure-to-warn claim involving one of its child car seat models. But the complete defense came at the end of a winding path that included a 10th Circuit reversal.

Hadjih, et al. v. Evenflo originated from a 2005 car collision in which driver Razika Hadjih’s 4-month-old son sustained a severe traumatic brain injury. The infant was riding in one of the defendant’s two-piece construction child car seats on the passenger side when a truck struck the Hadjihs’ Jeep Cherokee on that side when Hadjih failed to yield while turning. The seat separated from its base with the child restrained inside, flying into the rear cargo area of the Jeep, and the child suffered a fractured skull that left him permanently impaired.

The child’s father sued Evenflo in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado for damages under defective design and failure to warn. The plaintiffs argued that the defendant knew its Discovery Model 316 car seats, like the one involved in the crash, were prone to detachment. The Discovery’s two-piece design allows a “convenience base” to stay installed in the vehicle at all times while the user can attach and detach the seat itself.

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the January 11, 2016 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.