Pennsylvania couple awarded $5.9 million over paralysis from defective Mercury Sable airbag system

by Charles Miller

Four years ago, John Cancelleri was driving down Route 307 in Spring Brook Township, Pennsylvania. An oncoming car suddenly turned in front and collided with Cancelleri. The airbag in Cancelleri’s 2005 Mercury Sable failed to deploy. Mr. Cancelleri suffered a disc herniation and lower-extremity paralysis as a result of the auto accident.

Mr. Cancelleri and his wife sued Mercury. They alleged that a design defect in the mounting system for the Sable’s front crash sensor caused the driver’s side airbag to fail to deploy in the collision. After hearing more than eight days of argument and testimony, a Lackawanna County jury has agreed.

The jury found a design defect caused the injuries and awarded the couple damages totaling more than $5.9 million. Mr. Cancelleri was awarded $140,707 for past medical expenses, $1.3 million for future medical expenses, $1.2 million for past pain and suffering and $1.8 million for future pain and suffering. Mrs. Cancelleri was awarded $600,000 for past loss of consortium and $900,000 for future loss of consortium.

“Crashworthiness” Vehicle Defect Litigation

After a car collision, there is a second collision. This “second collision” occurs when the driver and passengers collided against the interior of their vehicle. The second collision is often more deadly than the first.

Car and truck manufacturers know that any vehicle they make can be involved in a collision. Thus, a car manufacturer’s duty to design a vehicle that is reasonably safe for all reasonably foreseeable uses includes a duty to design a vehicle that is reasonably safe when a collision occurs. The extent to which a car or truck has been designed to protect the occupants in a collision is called “vehicle crashworthiness. “Crashworthiness” refers broadly to many aspects of a vehicle (e.g., seat belts, crumple zones and airbags) that are intended to minimize occupant injuries, prevent ejection from the vehicle, and reduce the risk of fire.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a car accident, it may well be that the injuries were caused or made worse because the vehicle was not sufficiently crashworthy. In order to determine whether you may have a case, you should speak with an attorney.

Contact our law firm for your free case evaluation and to learn more about your legal right to compensation. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out a free legal consultation form.


Case results depend upon a variety of factors unique to each case. Results of other cases do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any future case.

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by Charles Miller

Charles Miller is a licensed attorney and a partner at Heygood, Orr & Pearson. Charles focuses his practice on areas of complex commercial litigation and personal injury litigation.