A San Diego Superior Court judge Thursday awarded $9.1 million in compensatory damages to the family of a Chula Vista woman who has been in a coma since 1983, when the General Motors car she was riding in was hit and crumpled because of faulty or non-existent body welds.
Judge Michael Greer announced the award after a three-month court trial. Greer found that the 1978 Oldsmobile Omega in which Irene Siu, 39, was riding was defective, San Diego attorney Harvey Levine said. He also said Greer found that Ronald Bryant, driver of the car that caused the accident, was negligent. Bryant's insurance company has already paid part of the damages, Levine said.
Levine and Santa Ana attorney Mark Robinson represented Siu's husband, Mark, and the couple's two children in the lawsuit. Siu was pregnant at the time of the accident and doctors were forced to deliver a baby girl by Caesarean section because she was comatose. The child, who is almost 3 years old, is in good health, Levine said.
During the trial, expert witnesses testified that the body of a 1978 Oldsmobile Omega normally has 131 body welds in the left rear side. But the car in which Siu was riding had 84 defective or missing welds on that side, the witnesses testified. Siu was sitting in the left rear passenger seat at the time of the accident.