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(Reuters) — A Texas jury awarded damages of $242 million to a Dallas family after finding that defects in the family's Lexus sedan caused injuries to their two children during a rear-end collision, the law firm representing the plaintiffs said on Friday.
The verdict by the jury in Dallas County District Court includes more than $143.6 million in punitive damages after jurors agreed that the actions of Lexus-maker Toyota Motor Corp. and Toyota Motor Sales amounted to gross negligence, the Law Offices of Frank L. Branson said in a statement.
The collision involving the family's 2002 Lexus ES 300 sedan occurred in September 2016. The 3-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter of Benjamin and Kristi Reavis were in the car's back seat, in child safety seats, the statement said.
The jury found that the sedan's front seats "were unreasonably dangerous and the defendants failed to warn about those dangers," the statement said.
"The automaker made a conscious decision to protect front-seat occupants from crash injuries like whiplash at the expense of rear-seat passengers," attorney Frank Branson said in the statement.
Toyota said it would consider its options going forward.
"While we respect the jury's decision, we remain confident that the injuries sustained were the result of factors specific to this very severe collision, not a defect in the design or manufacturing of the 2002 Lexus ES300," a Toyota spokesman said in an emailed statement.
Japan's Toyota Motor Corp. is recalling nearly three million vehicles in Japan, China, the Middle East and Oceania among other regions due to potentially faulty airbag inflators manufactured by Takata Corp., The Independent reported. The recall includes more than one million vehicles sold in Oceania, the Middle East and other smaller markets, and 750,000 vehicles in Japan. Vehicles sold in North America were exempt from the latest recall.