Home Case Results Hardy v. General Motors Corp. and Capitol Chevrolet, Inc. and Hardy v. General Motors Corp.

Product Liability / Rollover / Paraplegia

6/3/1996 - $150,000,000

Hardy v. General Motors Corp. and Capitol Chevrolet, Inc. and Hardy v. General Motors Corp.; Circuit Court, Lowndes County, Alabama. Believed by industry observers to be the largest verdict in automotive product liability history (at the time) and the largest verdict ever rendered against G.M. (the nation’s largest automaker), the jury’s award included $40 million in compensatory damages for Alex C. Hardy, $10 million in loss of consortium damages for his wife, Thelma R. Hardy and $100 million in punitive damages against G.M. Mr. Hardy was paralyzed from the chest down for life when the axle on his 1987 GM S-10 Blazer failed, causing the vehicle to roll over. In the rollover, the Type III door latch on the Blazer also failed; the door opened, and the latch failure allowed Mr. Hardy to be ejected out the open door and paralyzed when he landed outside the vehicle. Plaintiffs proved that G.M. had been aware that this defect was killing and injuring Americans for at least 14 years but that G.M. consciously chose not to recall the defective latches or warn the public. Plaintiffs proved G.M. engineers, lawyers, and executives had privately labeled the performance of the latch as a “problem,” “substandard,” and “unacceptable,” and had quietly settled all such cases and refused to produce the internal documents showing its guilty knowledge until 1994 when the time for NHTSA to force a recall of the latches expired.

G.M. appealed the verdict and filed a motion for a new trial. The case settled in November 1996.

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