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On November 25, 2013, Volkswagen AG and Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., who were represented by Craig L. Winterman, Gary S. Yates and Ningur Akoglu of Herzfeld & Rubin, obtained a defense verdict in a products liability case tried in the Pomona branch of the Los Angeles Superior Court.  Plaintiff, a 17 year old girl, was seated in the right front passenger seat of a 1979 VW Rabbit.  The Rabbit stalled on the freeway due to poor maintenance and was subsequently struck in the rear by a 1999 Honda Accord traveling 65 mph.  Plaintiff contended that passenger seat’s head rest either completely dislodged from the seat or rose sufficiently up during the accident to permit her head and neck to hyperextend over the back of the seat causing her to suffer a C-1 – C-2 subluxation which resulted in her quadriplegia.   Photographs taken at the scene by the CHP revealed that the head rest was not attached to the seat.  The head rest was subsequently found by Plaintiff’s expert in the footwall area of the right front passenger seat.  Plaintiff’s expert noted that the plastic head rest guides which insert into the upper metal frame member of the seat were fractured but still attached to the head rest posts.  Plaintiff alleged that either the plastic head rest guides were defectively manufactured (they were too short and would therefore not completely insert through the bottom hole of the seat’s upper frame member) or the upper frame member was defectively manufactured (the holes in which the plastic guides are inserted were spaced too far apart).  As a result, the guides were not fully inserted but were partially impinged (stuck) in the bottom hole of the frame member.   Plaintiff contended that due to thermal expansion and contraction, stresses developed which caused the plastic head rest guides to fracture.  The Rabbit was destroyed before VW had an opportunity to examine the vehicle.  However, from photographs VW was able to determine that the seats that were in the Rabbit were not the seats that originally came with vehicle.  VW was also able to determine from photographs that the seats that were in the Rabbit had been reupholstered.  VW contended that the plastic guides were broken during the reupholstery process and not from being too short or from thermal stresses.  Plaintiff’s experts included Richard Grossman, Mechanical Engineer; Patrick Hsieh M.D., Neurosurgeon; Ann T. Vasile M.D., Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation; Melody Sarino M.D., Rehabilitation;  Anne Barnes RN Life Care Planner; Karen Smith, Economist;  Howard Goldfarb, Vocational Rehabilitation;  and, Angeline Chen Esq., Immigration Law.  Defense experts included Gregory Stephens, Accident Reconstruction, Elizabeth Raphael M.D., Biomechanics and Gary Fowler PhD., Material Science.  The case was tried before the Honorable Judge R. Bruce Minto.  The verdict was 10-2 for the defense.