Woman Awarded $37 Million After Odyssey Crash Left Her A Quadriplegic, Honda Appeals

A Texas woman has been awarded $37.6 million by a jury following a crash in November 2015 that left her paralyzed.

Dallas News reports that 27-year-old Sarah Milburn was taking an Uber ride in a Honda Odyssey when the driver ran a red light and was hit by a pickup. She sued Honda in late 2016, with her attorneys arguing that it was the poorly designed seat belt system of the van that caused her injuries.

Milburn is now a quadriplegic with only minimal use of her arms and hands.

The seat belt system of the 2011 Honda Odyssey’s middle seat in the third row works like many other vehicles from the same era, incorporating a detachable shoulder strap that must be pulled down from the ceiling then anchored to the seat before it can be pulled over the passenger’s hips and buckled.

While this type of seatbelt is not uncommon, an expert demonstrated to the jury that fewer than 10 per cent of people unfamiliar with this type of seat belt were able to use it properly.

“Sarah put the seat belt on the same way 50 out of 53 people in our studies did, and wearing it that way was actually more dangerous than having no seat belt at all,” attorney Charla Aldous said.

After the verdict, Honda issued a statement revealing its plans to “vigorously appeal.”

“The design of the seat belt system for the middle passenger in the third-row seat in the 2011 Odyssey complies with all applicable federal safety standards and is similar in design to virtually all comparable minivans of this vintage.

“If it had been worn properly in this crash, the plaintiff would have suffered no serious injuries.”

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  • TrevP

    Honda’s right. Sue the careless Uber driver that ran the red light causing the accident.

  • Lemuel Taylor

    I feel like I read more negative press about Honda than any other carmaker. What is it about Hondas that the world so dislikes? What about the driver in the situation?

  • Юрій

    37.6 million. How it was calculated?

  • Adam

    While I’m no fan of Honda shouldn’t the onus be on the person who puts the seat belt on? If they can’t do it properly then that’s their fault not Honda’s.

  • I agree with other commenters, seat belt patent was federally approved, the seat belt wasn’t worn properly and now Honda is to blame for that combined with a reckless driver… What the hell?!

  • Matteo Tommasi

    So, if I am an idiot and I don’t use my seat belt properly, I can get million of dollars from the carmaker because of injuries occurred while running a red light. That’s America guys

    • Galaxium

      50 of 53 people struggled with using the seatbelt system.

      Ask any industrial designer and they would clearly say there is an issue with the intuitiveness behind the seatbelt. It has poor design since the vast majority of users failed to use it properly.

  • Momogg

    It’s incredible, and what about the uber driver?

  • Duke Woolworth

    The driver/owner of the van should have made sure everybody was safely and legally buckled up. The case should have been against him. If everybody had complied and the injuries were sustained because of Honda’s poor design, I can see them being involved in this suit. More legal profession make-work.

  • HaltestelleLuitpolthafen

    This is flat out dumb.

    This is in no way, shape, or form Honda’s fault.

  • Galaxium

    I get that a lot of the other commenters think this is stupid, but the very basic tenant of design is that it should be easy to use and understand by humans.

    If 50 of 53 people are struggling to use such a system, then clearly there is an issue with the design of the seatbelt system that is not very user-friendly.

    • james.

      Then the government should be liable for allowing a seatbelt design like that fall into production. Not Honda’s fault.

      • Galaxium

        Not really.

        We’ve had thousands of things that satisfy federal guidelines, but ultimately were deemed insufficient for consumer safety.

        Again, Honda’s seatbelt system was not intuitive enough for 50 of 53 people. That’s a problem that any designer would be able to identify.

    • Benjamin B.

      Or with the US educational system…



      • Galaxium

        Haha woooow so funny!

        Go to any industrial design class – the key is that it should be intuitive to use by most humans and shouldn’t require too much instruction. 50 of 53 had issues with using it, so we can safely say that the design is clearly not intuitive.

      • stirfry

        Or with the crazy traffic signals in Texas…

    • Ken Lyns

      50 out of 53 Americans can’t locate the USA on a world map, so…

  • TheBelltower

    I understand why she won. She took the precaution of wearing a seatbelt, so it seems that she intended to do what she thought was best. But $37M seems excessive. Were there punitive damages awarded? Did Honda do what Toyota often does, and bury known defects? What about Uber’s liability and the Uber driver’s liability in all of this?

  • George Gulden

    I’ve had three of this generation Honda minivan. The rear row middle and the middle row middle work exactly the same. If you can’t figure out how a seatbelt works don’t get in a car. Better yet don’t leave your house and don’t blame someone else for your stupidity. You can blame the guy who ran the red light though.

    • Meitzi

      Why you think, design would not need to prevent wrong setup?

    • stirfry

      Better yet, fix the crap design Georgie.

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