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This case was brought by the guardian of a severely brain damaged 26-year-old stewardess. During the solo vehicle accident, she suffered a substantial brain stem injury which included memory impairment, speech, gait and behavioral changes, in addition to a diminution of her IQ from 130 to 70. The accident occurred when plaintiff attempted to negotiate a curve at the top of a hill and, according to testimony, was unable to steer the vehicle appropriately, causing it to hit the center divider, go out of control, and roll over a 50 foot embankment.

Plaintiff contended that the steering configuration on the subject “Super Beetle” (which was new and unique to that model) was defective. The product incorporated metal bearings that plaintiff claimed were defective because they were not fabricated of stainless steel and were subject to corrosion. Additionally, plaintiff contended that the rubber protective steering housing and seals protecting the needle bearings were antiquated, subject to severe wear and, as a result, allowed the steering system to develop excess play, making the vehicle uncontrollable in severe driving maneuvers.

James Okuley and Gerald Reopelle of Newport Beach represented plaintiff. After a two month trial, in which $10,000,000 in special damages was claimed by plaintiff, the jury returned a unanimous defense verdict.