— A Texas appeals court has upheld a verdict and award to the family who was traveling in a Lexus vehicle when it was rear-ended in 2016.
According to the Lexus seatback lawsuit, Benjamin and Kristi Reavis were in the front of their 2002 ES 300 and their two children, ages 3 and 5, were riding in child seats in the back seat. The September 2016 crash occurred as the family was traveling on the Dallas North Central Expressway.
The Lexus was stopped in traffic when it was hit from behind by a Honda Pilot traveling 45 to 48 miles per hour.
The front seats of the Lexus collapsed backward into the child seats in the rear seat, causing severe injuries to both children including, permanent brain damage.
The Lexus lawsuit says the parents ramped up over the tops of their front seats and slipped out of their seatbelts, launching the parents headfirst into the back seat. Both their heads violently hit the heads of their children who were in their car seats.
Toyota has always argued the Lexus met all federal safety standards, and automakers design the front seats to collapse in an effort to protect front seat occupants from injuries.
In 2018, a nine-man, three-woman jury originally awarded the family a combined $242 million, but the amount was reduced to $213 million. Toyota appealed the verdict and the Dallas Fifth District Court of Appeals has upheld the verdict and award.
However, for reasons publicly unknown, the family asked that a $19.4 million judgment against Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. be dropped.
Toyota's share of the award is $194 million, but the automaker may appeal the decision to the Texas Supreme Court.
The appeals court says Toyota failed to perform crash tests for similar collisions even though collisions of that type are reported more than 77,000 times a year. That decision "is evidence of conscious indifference to a known extreme degree of risk of potential harm to others."
The case is Benjamin Thomas Reavis, et al. v. Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. et al., filed in the 134th Judicial District Court in Dallas County.
The plaintiffs are represented by The Law Offices of Frank L. Branson.