A jury found in favor of Kia Motors in a lawsuit filed by relatives of two Los Angeles County women who alleged that a defective steering wheel caused the deaths of both in a solo-vehicle accident in 2017.
The Los Angeles Superior Court panel deliberated for about a day before deciding on Thursday that the 2016 Kia Optima did not have a defective electronic steering system at the time of the accident, in which 72-year-old Patricia Ann Daniels and her 53-year-old daughter, Patrice Nadine Boyd Harrison, were killed and a 5-year-old boy — the great-grandson of Daniels, and grandson of Harrison — was left paralyzed.
The boy, now 8 years old, was one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
Daniels was driving the car, rented from an Avis outlet in Hawthorne, about 75 mph on state Highway 99 en route to a family reunion in Fresno when she lost control and crashed into the right shoulder of a freeway underpass, according to the plaintiffs’ court papers.
The boy was left paralyzed from the waist down and is confined to a wheelchair, the plaintiffs’ court papers stated. He witnessed the traumatic injuries suffered by his great-grandmother and grandmother and to this day, suffers from severe emotional distress, including flashbacks, nightmares and depression, the plaintiffs’ court papers stated.
The plaintiffs maintained the Kia’s power-steering unit malfunctioned just before the crash. However, lawyers for Kia Motors America Inc. argued that Daniels lost control of the car due to her own negligence and that the boy’s spinal injury occurred because he was not properly restrained in a child booster seat.
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