Texas Jury Delivers $124.5 Million Verdict against Audi in Seat Back Failure Case

April 14, 2016 by

A Texas jury recently ordered the Volkswagen-owned car manufacturer Audi to pay $124.5 million to a boy who was left with brain damage after his seat collapsed during a 2012 rear-end collision. Auto safety experts say this isn’t an isolated incident and that similar seat back failures could pose dangers to children nationwide.

11-year-old Jesse Rivera Jr. was injured in a 2012 crash in San Antonio. The boy was sitting behind his father in the back seat of his family’s 2005 Audi A4 sedan when another driver rear-ended them; during the collision, the front seat collapsed and the boy’s father slid backwards, hitting his head against his son’s in the back seat.

The boy’s parents sued Audi, arguing that the company was responsible for their son’s injuries because the seat back was too weak to withstand a rear impact to the car. A jury agreed with them in a verdict this month, finding that Rivera Jr.’s injuries resulted from “gross negligence” on the carmaker’s part.

A subsequent investigation by CBS News showed that seat back failures have caused a number of serious injuries and that children in the back seat are suffering the worst of these injuries, up to and including death. CBS’ investigation also demonstrated that current federal safety standards for vehicle seat durability are so low that even a banquet chair can pass.

The jury verdict against Audi came despite the fact that its seats met federal standards—showing that meeting the minimum requirements for safety will not necessarily shield negligent automakers against litigation when their products fail.

If you have been injured due to a seat back failure or other automotive defect, please call the personal injury attorneys of Hossley & Embry at (866) 522-9265 or send us an email at newcase@hossleyembry.com. One of our primary areas of focus is offering legal representation to victims of defective products. We provide free consultations and have the resources available (including charter aircraft) to travel throughout Texas and the United States on short notice to investigate your potential claim.


Fisk, M. C. (2016, March 3). Audi loses $124 million Texas verdict over seat back failure. Bloomberg News. Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-03-03/audi-loses-124-million-texas-verdict-over-seat-back-failure

Towey, M., & Van Cleave, K. (2016, March 10). “No excuse”: Safety experts say this car defect puts kids in danger. CBS News. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/seat-back-failures-injuries-deaths-auto-safety-experts-demand-nhtsa-action/