A Los Angeles Jury decided that the braking system software defect in a Nissan-made SUV was the cause of a traffic accident that killed three people, awarding roughly $25 million to the surviving driver and family members of the deceased.
Nissan North America Inc. faced claims in the nearly month-long trial from both Solomon Mathenge, represented by Paul Kiesel, whose Infiniti QX56 SUV in 2012 crashed into a minivan in a Hollywood intersection, killing a woman and her two daughters, and by family members of the deceased.
Solomon Mathenge was initially charged with vehicular manslaughter after the collision. Those charges were only dropped in December of last year. Cruz sued Mathenge after the accident, but later dropped those claims and Mathenge joined his lawsuit against Nissan.
After charging Mathenge, prosecutors became aware that the brake failure Mathenge claimed he experienced was similar to the failures alleged in a federal class action lawsuit against Nissan involving the same Infiniti vehicles. Nissan settled the case in 2014 in a deal that offered compensation of up to $800 for 350,000 2004-2008 Nissan Titans, Armadas and Infiniti QX56’s.
That lawsuit dealt also with supposedly faulty delta stroke sensors, the software element that Mathenge and Cruz’s attorneys claim caused the crash. The plaintiff class accused the auto manufacturer of withholding information about the defect from the public “to [Nissan’s] significant financial gain.” Prosecutors interviewed class members in the federal lawsuit, and after determining that they could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mathenge’s vehicle didn’t have the same alleged defect, dropped the charges against him.
The trial was before Judge Randolph Hammock and lasted five weeks. The case, Cruz v. Nissan North America, et al., was tried in the Superior Court of California for Los Angeles County.
California Fellow Paul Kiesel of Kiesel Law LLP, in Beverly Hills, California, has repeatedly been selected as one of the top plaintiff attorneys in the State of California and the country. The Los Angeles Business Journal recognized Mr. Kiesel as one of the Top 50 Trial Lawyers. The Daily Journal named Mr. Kiesel one of the 100 most influential attorneys in the State of California. He was also selected as one of the top 500 attorneys in the United States by Law Dragon. In addition, Mr. Kiesel is rated A.V. (highest rating) by Martindale-Hubbell. Mr. Kiesel is very active in the legal community. He was the president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association for 2015-2016 and was the past Chair of the Litigation Section. He was appointed by former Chief Justice Ronald George to the State of California Judicial Council Civil and Small Claims Advisory Committee. He served on the Board of Governors for the Consumer Attorneys of California and the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles for over 25 years. In recognition of his service, Mr. Kiesel was elected an emeritus (lifetime) board member of both organizations. From 2001-2005, Mr. Kiesel sat on the Board of Governors of the Association of Business Trial Lawyers. Mr. Kiesel is currently the Co-Chair of the Open Courts Coalition, a bipartisan committee of attorneys from throughout California advocating full-funding of the civil justice system. Members of the Open Courts Coalition include Niall McCarthy, president of the Consumer Attorneys of California, the Honorable Carlos Moreno, former Governors Gray Davis and George Deukmejian, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaragosa, and former California Attorney General John VanDekamp. Mr. Kiesel is a Senior Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America.