$25 Million Verdict Against Nissan
Great Victory for Paul R. Kiesel Clients
A Los Angeles Jury decided that the braking system software defect in a Nissan-made SUV was the cause of a traffic accident that killed three people, awarding roughly $25 million to the surviving driver and family members of the deceased.
Nissan North America Inc. faced claims in the nearly month-long trial from both Solomon Mathenge, represented by Paul Kiesel, whose Infiniti QX56 SUV in 2012 crashed into a minivan in a Hollywood intersection, killing a woman and her two daughters, and by family members of the deceased.
Solomon Mathenge was initially charged with vehicular manslaughter after the collision. Those charges were only dropped in December of last year. Cruz sued Mathenge after the accident, but later dropped those claims and Mathenge joined his lawsuit against Nissan.
After charging Mathenge, prosecutors became aware that the brake failure Mathenge claimed he experienced was similar to the failures alleged in a federal class action lawsuit against Nissan involving the same Infiniti vehicles. Nissan settled the case in 2014 in a deal that offered compensation of up to $800 for 350,000 2004-2008 Nissan Titans, Armadas and Infiniti QX56’s.
That lawsuit dealt also with supposedly faulty delta stroke sensors, the software element that Mathenge and Cruz’s attorneys claim caused the crash. The plaintiff class accused the auto manufacturer of withholding information about the defect from the public “to [Nissan’s] significant financial gain.” Prosecutors interviewed class members in the federal lawsuit, and after determining that they could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mathenge’s vehicle didn’t have the same alleged defect, dropped the charges against him.
The trial was before Judge Randolph Hammock and lasted five weeks. The case, Cruz v. Nissan North America, et al., was tried in the Superior Court of California for Los Angeles County.Closing Moments from Nissan Trial, Clip Courtesy of Courtroom View Net
Closing Moments from Nissan Trial, Clip Courtesy of Courtroom View Network