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HAMRICK v. VOLKSWAGEN

Ms. Hamrick, who was 17 years old, was driving a 1965 VW Beetle northbound on DeSoto. As she entered the intersection of DeSoto and Oxnard, Ms. Hamrick’s vehicle was struck in the left front corner by a Mustang that was turning left from DeSoto onto Oxnard. As a result of the collision, the Beetle caught fire.

Ms. Hamrick sustained third degree burns over 40% of her body, including her face, neck, left breast, both arms and legs and feet. She underwent over 20 surgeries and was expected to undergo at least 20 more. Her past medicals were over $192,000, with projected future medicals of over $200,000.

Plaintiff contended that the Volkswagen was defectively designed in that it did not have a solid barrier between the luggage compartment, where the fuel tank is located, and the passenger compartment. In addition, plaintiff contended that VW failed to warn about removing parts from the dashboard which would create holes and allow fire to enter the passenger compartment.

This case was tried in Van Nuys. Judge Stephen Petersen presided over the jury trial. Plaintiff was represented by David Lipsky, Jon Kodani and Keith Moreton. The trial lasted 16 days. After five hours of deliberations, the jury returned a defense verdict.