Nissan loses $4.2M lawsuit

March 21, 2013 at 6:51 PM

NEWARK, N.J., March 21 (UPI) -- An Essex County, N.J., jury has ordered Nissan to pay $4.2 million to a man who was injured after a tire fell off a pickup truck and hit the roof of his car.

Larry Clanton, 52, was driving a Nissan Altima in July 2006 when the tire, weighing 73 pounds, hit the roof of his car, which cracked and pushed his head forward. Clanton's lawyer, Cynthia Walters, said he had to re-learn how to walk and must exercise every day to keep his muscles from contracting and risk being hospitalized again, The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger reported Thursday.

Walters argued the header panel that forms the front of the roof was designed differently in the Altima than in most other cars.

"Design engineers know how to design a good roof, it's not really a problem in American-made cars but what we found is it's a problem in these Altimas," she said.

Lawyers for Nissan argued that at the speed the tire and Clanton's car were moving, the roof would have been damaged and caused the injuries the plaintiff suffered regardless of design.

"I feel great that I won but I just feel as though I wish I could have my life back," Clanton said. "I hope this makes the manufacturers more responsible. I don't want anyone to go through what I've been through."

Nissan spokesman Steven Oldham said: "While we sympathize with the plaintiff, our vehicle was not the cause of this unfortunate accident. We are disappointed by the jury's findings and are exploring our options."

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