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Jury rejects car seat defect claim in brain injury case

An Abingdon federal jury decided a child car seat was not defective, closing the door on a $50-million claim for damages for an 8-year-old girl who suffered devastating brain damage in a 2009 auto accident.

The jury deliberated about six hours before returning a defense verdict Monday evening.

Lawyers for Samantha Musick argued her skull was fractured because her head hit the unpadded side wing of her Dorel high-back booster seat when her family’s minivan was rear ended. Lawyers for Dorel argued the car seat was not defective and it was more likely the girl’s skull fracture was caused by momentary impact with her father’s head.

Musick’s lawyers scored wins before trial in the hard fought case. Judge James Jones sanctioned Dorel for providing false information about the company’s decision not to use padding on the side wings of the car seat. Jones also agreed to allow experts to provide estimates of Samantha’s future earning capacity, even though she was only five years old at the time of her injury.

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By Peter Vieth

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