News & Events

Chicago, November 6, 2008

Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP Attorneys Successfully Defend Product Liability Case in the Southern District of Illinois

Brian W. Bell and Jody Kahn of Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP and Ryan McQueeney of Sanchez, Daniels & Hoffman, LLP in Chicago recently represented Chrysler LLC in the successful defense of a product liability case in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. Mike Kokal of Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen in Edwardsville, Illinois represented Arvin-Meritor, Inc., the manufacturer of a prop strut used by Chrysler.

After a four day trial, the plaintiffs, Bradford and Cynthia Freeland, through their attorneys, Gerard Schneller and Ryan Furniss of Holland, Groves, Schneller & Stolze in St. Louis Missouri, asked the jury for $1.8 million in damages. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Bradford Freeland in the amount of $15,000 for pain and suffering, with 80 percent of the fault being allocated to Arvin-Meritor, Inc. and 20% of the fault allocated to Chrysler LLC. The jury did not award Mr. Freeland damages for lost wages or loss of a normal life. The jury awarded zero damages to Cynthia Freeland. 
 
Mr. Freeland alleged that he suffered a disabling brain injury when a new rear liftgate prop strut he was installing on a minivan exploded, discharging a metal rod which struck him on the forehead. Mr. Freeland further claimed that he suffered from severe headaches, tremors, seizures, hearing loss, dizziness and problems with his balance as a result of the occurrence. He alleged that he had been unable to work since August 18, 2000. However, evidence was presented to show that after the occurrence, Mr. Freeland performed significant work as a pastor at the Tower of Light Church.

Because the jury found Chrysler to be less than 25 percent at fault in causing Mr. Freeland’s injuries, Chrysler was only severally liable for the assessed damages. Chrysler had made an offer of judgment before trial in an amount greater than the verdict. A petition for costs for an amount in excess of the verdict against Chrysler is pending.

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