Noreen Lewis, 44, rented a Toyota passenger van from PhillyCarShare (PCS), a car sharing organization that provides members with access to cars on an hourly rate basis. While traveling in the van with her family, Lewis felt the steering wheel shimmy and saw the “check engine” light illuminate. She called PCS and was told to take the vehicle to the nearest service station. While en route, the van’s wheels locked, causing the vehicle to skid to the left, strike a barrier cable, and flip over three times.
Lewis suffered a brachial plexus injury and has lost meaningful use of her left arm. She can no longer practice medicine, at which she had earned about $150,000 annually. The other five passengers−Lewis’s four minor children and her 65-year-old mother−also suffered injuries, including arm and leg fractures and neck and back injuries.
Lewis sued Toyota Motor Corp., alleging negligent repair of the van. Among other things, the plaintiff claimed there had been damage to one of the vehicle’s ball joints prior to the accident but the defendant’s service department failed to detect this.
The jury awarded $15.7 million. Lewis received $11.4 million, and her family members received the rest.
Citation: Lewis v. Toyota Motor Corp., No. 1119 (Pa., Phila. Co. Com. Pleas Mar. 19, 2013).
Plaintiff counsel: AAJ member Kenneth K. Fulginiti and Thomas J. Duffy, both of Philadelphia.