November 7, 2023 in Case Summaries

In a published opinion touching on numerous aspects of Texas products liability jurisprudence, a panel led by Judge Patrick E. Higginbotham upheld a $5.0 million jury verdict in favor of Su Min Kim, a passenger in a Honda CR-V who suffered severe brain damage when a side impact caused the driver to slip out of his seat belt and crash his head against Su Min’s.  The Fifth Circuit first rejected Honda’s Daubert challenges to the testimony of the plaintiffs’ liability experts, Mariusz Ziejewski and Neil Hannemann.  Next, the Court held that the evidence was sufficient to support the jury’s finding that either of two alternative designs—a front center airbag and a reverse geometry seatbelt—would have significantly reduced the risk of Su Min’s injury without substantially impairing the vehicle’s utility.  Finally, the Fifth Circuit upheld the district court’s refusal to submit a jury instruction on Texas’s rebuttable presumption of nonliability, holding that no federal regulation governed the product risk of a far-side impact injury in a side-impact collision.  Su Min Kim and Ji Hun Kim v. American Honda Motor Co., Inc., 86 F.4th 150 (5th Cir. 2023).

Courts:  Federal Courts of Appeals

Subject Matter:  Products Liability & Personal Injury; Procedural & Evidentiary Issues