April 24, 2014 by Nicole Y. Brown New Jersey 0 comments
NJ Dealership Hit With Punitive Damages For Failing To Detect Bald TiresIn the recent unreported decision of Ceasar v. Flemington Car and Truck Company, New Jersey’s Appellate Court upheld the trial court’s award of punitive damages to the plaintiffs who were injured in a motor vehicle accident. Plaintiff Carla Cesar was driving a 2004 Chevy Trailblazer when the right tire blew out, causing the vehicle to roll over multiple times. All occupants of the vehicle suffered personal injuries. The plaintiffs filed suit against the dealership where the car was purchased and maintained. During the discovery process, it was revealed that the dealership had inspected the vehicle prior to the accident, failed to detect a bald spot on the tire and failed to recommend that the tires be replaced. The jury determined that the dealership acted with reckless disregard for the safety of others and awarded $5.5 million in punitive damages. The trial court reduced the award of punitive damages to $3 million. The car dealership appealed, arguing that punitive damages should have not been awarded and that the award was excessive. The Appellate Court upheld the trial court’s decision, finding that the jury was permitted to award punitive damages since the dealership’s failure to detect a bald spot could reasonably constitute wanton and willful disregard for the high probability of injury. The court also upheld the amount of the award, finding that the dealership’s behavior was reprehensible. Thanks to Heather Aquino for her contributions to this post. For more information, please contact Nicole Y. Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.