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As jury deliberates, parties settle lawsuit against booster seat maker for accident that paralyzed child

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Decatur, GA – As jurors deliberated whether a car seat maker was to blame for the catastrophic injuries sustained by a toddler in a wreck in 2018, and after closing closing arguments in which attorneys for the The child’s family have suggested that jurors should award well over $100 million, as the parties settled the case last Friday. The terms of the agreement are confidential. Trice c. Dorel Juvenile Group, Inc., 18A70731.

Brittany Trice was driving with her two children wearing shoulder seat belts and sitting in Dorel Juvenile Group “Rise” child booster seats when she hit a pickup truck in Tucker, Georgia. Her son, who was 4 at the time, suffered spinal injuries that left him a quadriplegic, forced him to breathe on a ventilator and rely on long-term care.

Trice says her son was wearing his three-point seat belt properly at the time of the crash, but Dorel’s booster seat allowed the child to slip out of the seat belt. She claims her son was within the weight range advertised on the seat box, but the company failed to properly warn her that he was too small to safely use the seat.

Friday’s settlement came as jurors entered their first full day of deliberations. On Thursday, Trice’s attorney, Tom Willingham of Beasley Allen, suggested a range of damages exceeding $120 million in compensation and called for penalties to be awarded. “Should not [Trice’s son] to be paid [in non-economic damages]…as much as health care providers are going to get paid? Willingham said, after noting evidence that medical costs for the child’s deep wounds would be between $16 million and $60 million.

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Friday’s announcement of a settlement concluded a 7-day safety-focused trial of the booster seat. Dorel argues that the seat was designed appropriately to prevent rolling of the car’s lap belt, but that Trice failed to heed the seat’s warnings and instructions for use. In Thursday’s closings, Judge Jonathan of ArentFox Schiff told jurors evidence showed the child was not wearing his shoulder belt properly at the time of the crash.

“Dorel cannot control how people use their car seats once they have purchased [them] and take [them] home,” the judge said. “There is only one person who has the power to prevent serious abuse from happening. And that is the parent who puts their child in the car seat and decides for themselves whether they are going to follow the instructions. instructions given to him.

But Trice’s lawyers argued the evidence showed she properly strapped Buddy into the booster seat. And during Friday’s closings, Ben Baker of Beasley Allen pointed to crash test video which he said showed Dorel’s seat had failed to properly secure properly belted children the size of Trice’s son to the time of the accident.

“If a booster seat can’t put a child in the correct position for the seat belt to be fastened, then it has failed in its only job of keeping the child in the seat,” Baker said. “That’s what this case is about.”

CVN has contacted attorneys on the case and will update this article with their comments.

Email Arlin Crisco at [email protected].

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