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South Carolina Jury awards former Soccer player $7 million

Posted on Mar 19, 2006

Jury awards former Furman player $7 million Associated PressGREENVILLE, S.C. - A federal court jury awarded $7 million to a former Furman soccer player who was injured in an interstate crash in 2002, finding Mitsubishi Motors responsible for his injuries. Chefik Simo was among four Furman freshman returning to campus in Gray Griffin's Mitsubishi Montero Sport that crashed on Interstate 85 in Spartanburg County on Oct. 11, 2002. The accident killed Griffin, a rising Paladins star, and injured Simo and the two other players, Josh Villalobos and Sean Murray. Simo, 21, of Dallas, was the most seriously hurt of the three. He needed surgery to repair his fractured pelvis and also had a stomach puncture, a fractured shoulder blade, and a separated shoulder among his injuries. According to the verdict form, the U.S. District Court jury found the "vehicle had a design defect which caused it to be unreasonably dangerous and that this defect was a proximate cause" of Simo getting hurt. Simo's attorney, Frank Branson, said the jury found the vehicle defective in its stability and that the automaker was negligent in not properly testing it. Mitsubishi Motors was disappointed and disagreed with the decision, according to a statement released by company spokesman Dan Irvin. There were several factors involved in the accident, the company said. Mitsubishi contending that Griffin, the driver who died, "fell asleep at the wheel, then came to, making a series of extreme steering maneuvers to avoid rear-ending a tractor trailer," according to the statement. Despite the vehicle overturning in the accident, it "protected the plaintiff very well and he made a good recovery from his injuries," the company said. Mitsubishi said it will review the decision and possibly appeal. Simo recovered to play 10 games as a midfielder at Virginia in 2004. However, doctors worried that competing in soccer might aggravate Simo's injuries and the player ended his comeback.

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