GM must pay pounds 22m over death of boy.
A Florida jury ruled yesterday that General Motors Corp must pay pounds 22 million in damages to a family that sued the car maker over the death of their 13-year-old son.
The Broward County Circuit Court jury awarded no punitive damages in the wrongful death suit, filed by Constance and Robert McGee, of Pembroke Pines, Florida, over the death of their son, Shane, in a car fire.
The McGee's 1983 Oldsmobile Cutlass station wagon was idling at a tollbooth at a Virginia highway on July 13, 1991, when a trailer broke loose from a pickup truck Curtis Cayton was driving several lanes away and rolled under the station wagon, leading to a fire.
McGee's attorney, Mr Sheldon Schlesinger, had argued that the accident could have been prevented if GM had built the car with a simple gas tank shield.
The jury had awarded the family pounds 40 million in compensation damages, but found GM only 55 per cent responsible for the accident, and therefore liable for the pounds 22 million payment. Punitive damages could have been astronomical.
Cayton was found 45 per cent responsible. But under Florida law, if only one of two potential defendants is sued, the one brought to court is not responsible for the other's portion of fault. Cayton had previously been sued in Virginia, and his insurer s ettled that case for an undisclosed amount.
General Motors attorneys said the company planned to appeal.
The fireball that killed Shane McGee also killed his cousin, Nancy Hawthorne, and burned four other family members, including Constance and Robert McGee, Shane's sister Kelly and another cousin, Jane Renze.