Woman Wins Lawsuit Against Suzuki

SUNDAY, JULY 9, 1995

A jury awarded $90 million to a woman who was paralyzed from the neck down when her friend’s Suzuki Samurai rolled over on a highway.

Katie Rodriguez’s lawyer said the award Friday, which included $60 million in punitive damages, is the largest yet in a Samurai rollover case.

American Suzuki Motor Corp. said it will appeal.

Rodriguez, 30, was a passenger in a friend’s Samurai when it flipped onto its side on a Missouri highway on Feb. 11, 1990.

Suzuki contended the driver went off the road and hit the edge of a driveway. But Rodriguez’s lawyer, James E. Butler Jr., said the small four-wheel-drive car was too difficult to control.

More than 7,000 people were injured and 147 killed in rollover accidents involving Samurais between 1985 and 1992, Butler said.

Suzuki sold more than 80,000 Samurais a year in the United States until 1988, when Consumer Reports magazine reported that the car’s low weight and high center of gravity made it prone to roll over in driving tests.

U.S. Samurai sales dropped to 1,300 last year, according to Automotive News.

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