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BURKHARD v. VOLKSWAGEN

This was a wrongful death action involving a 53-year-old school teacher who was survived by her husband and two teenaged daughters. The decedent was driving a 1979 VW Rabbit when she swerved to avoid another car. The decedent lost control of her vehicle, striking the center divider of the freeway. She was partially ejected and was decapitated on an angle iron support post. Plaintiffs contended that the VW passive restraint seat belt system was defectively designed, and thus permitted the decedent to be ejected from the vehicle.

This was a precedent setting lawsuit, in that it was the first product liability case tried against Volkswagen on the issue of the safety of its passive restraint seat belt system. The case was tried against Philip Daigneault of Daigneault, Abel and Daigneault. This 3-week Compton jury trial resulted in a defense verdict.