American Suzuki Motor Corp. has reached a confidential settlement in a Samurai rollover suit filed by a passenger left quadriplegic after a 1990 rollover accident of a 1988 Samurai in Missouri.
The agreement followed two trials that produced verdicts of compensatory and punitive damages against Suzuki.
The settlement prohibits either side from disclosing the terms of the deal, said John Wallach, a St. Louis lawyer for Katie Rodriguez.
Rodriguez's product-liability suit blamed her injuries on the defective design of the 1988 Samurai, namely a high center of gravity and short wheelbase. Suzuki based its defense on Rodriguez's failure to wear a seat belt and drinking by the driver.
In 1995, a jury assessed damages at $90 million, which the trial judge reduced to $40 million. The case was reversed on appeal, and Rodriguez won a $37 million verdict at the second trial in 1997.
This year, the Missouri Supreme Court ordered a third trial, ruling that Suzuki should have been allowed to offer as evidence reports by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Great Britain Department of Transportation. The settlement avoids the need to hold that new trial.
Suzuki spokeswoman Joan Gladstone said: 'The case was settled as the result of mediation in St. Louis. The rules that apply to mediation in Missouri preclude parties from discussing it.'
Wallace said Suzuki's claim against the driver is pending.