A distributor of racecar seats that are sold and marketed for regular passenger vehicles has paid the lion’s share of a $6.3 million settlement reached in the case of a woman who was rendered a quadriplegic.
The lawsuit stemmed from an accident that occurred on May 15, 2005, when Dalia Perez, then 19, was the front-seat passenger in a car driven by her boyfriend, Oscar Baeza, Jr.
Baeza, who had been drinking, was driving west on Irving Park Road when the speeding car left the roadway and struck a tree, Napleton said.
Earlier, Baeza, then 19, had removed the original equipment seats and seat belts from his 1995 Mitsubishi Eagle Talon and replaced them with racing seats. He presumably would race the “tuner car” (a car with performance modifications) on weekends for recreational purposes, Napleton said.
The plaintiff contended that the seats were not properly bolted and/or installed into the car and that there was no seat belt available for her.
The plaintiff’s attorney contended that if the passenger seat had been anchored to the floor of the vehicle, Perez would not have sustained the spinal cord injury that left her quadriplegic.
The plaintiff’s attorney said the bulk of the settlement fell on the distributor of the seats rather than the driver – who had limited insurance – largely due to Illinois’ joint and several liability statute. Napleton said. “It’s the best possible result, given the insurance limits.”
The distributor of the seats paid $6 million, the full extent of its liability insurance policy, Napleton said. Baeza paid $50,000 to settle the case.
Two other defendants – the owner of Cascade Banquets, and Governors Park of Barrington, Inc., a nursing and rehabilitation center – settled earlier, bringing the total settlement amount to nearly $6.3 million, Napleton said.
The case is Dalia J. Perez v. Oscar Baeza, et al., No. 09 L 3958, formerly No. 05 L 7932.