A Salt Lake City jury has returned a defense verdict after a thirteen-day trial in an “enhanced injury” products liability case in Judge Todd Shaughnessy’s courtroom. The case is Blank v. Ken Garff Mercedes et al., C/N 110907788, Third Judicial District Court for Salt Lake County.

On April 1, 2009, Kathleen Blank was driving from the airport to home in Park City with her husband, Andrew, a passenger, in their 2008 Mercedes-Benz GL 320. They were rear-ended by a drunk driver speeding at over 100 miles an hour, causing the Mercedes to spin out of control and crash. The Blanks both sustained injuries they claim were enhanced by the failure of all airbags to deploy, the passenger seat breaking, the headrests failing, and other problems with the safety features. The amended complaint raises various claims of strict liability and negligence.

As you might imagine, the case was complex, with swarms of experts, lengthy discovery, and extensive motion practice. (There are over 1320 docket entries to date.). Interestingly, Kathleen Blank’s own claims were dismissed on a motion for summary judgment involving the lack of timely expert testimony on defects in the driver-side seat and restraint systems. Judge Shaughnessy’s Order on MPSJ and Order on Motion for Reconsideration.

Yesterday the jury returned its Special Verdict finding that there was no design defect in the front passenger seat system. 

Defense counsel: John A. Anderson, David J. Williams, Lauren E.H. DiFrancesco, Stoel Rives; Justs N. Karlsons; Garrett Sanderson III, Squire Patton Boggs (San Francisco).

Plaintiffs’ counsel: Dale Gardiner, ​Matthew Brahana, Megan J. Nelson of Fabian Van Cott.​