Jury Awards $124 Million to Family of Young Crash Victim
SAN ANTONIO -- The family of local boy severely injured in a car crash is speaking for the first time since a Bexar County jury awarded them 124 million dollars.
Jesse Rivera, Jr., now 11, suffered major brain damage in late 2012 when a car slammed into the back of his father's 2005 Audi A4.
Following a month-long trial, jurors agreed that a defect in the Audi caused Jesse's head injuries, after his father's seatback suddenly collapsed.
"That in turn ejected or ramped him out into the rear section where his child was seated, skull to skull contact," said family attorney Fidel Rodriguez, Jr. "It was a catastrophic brain injury to the child. He is paralyzed on the right side, blind on the right side."
"He suffers debilitating seizures," adds father Jesse, Sr.
"Our life will never be the same again," says mother Kathy.
At trial, Rodriguez argued that Audi was well aware of the defect in the strength and design of the seatback.
"They knew through their development testing that the potential was there for this type of injury," Rodriguez says. "They chose, through a business decision of their own, to continue to put this out to the public."
"This was something that could have been avoided," says Jesse, Sr. "We want this to end. We want folks to know."
Kathy hopes this verdict sends a clear message to automakers and serves as a warning for other families.
"If I would have known that was going to be the last time I heard Junior tell me 'I love you' that morning, I definitely wouldn't have allowed him to go in the Audi to school that morning."
A spokesman for Audi had this response to the verdict:
"We of course are not pleased with the verdict but have no comment at this time. We will evaluate the next steps to be taken. We're not commenting on any possible appeals."