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Home / Top Legal News / Leaking radiator fluid leads to $4M settlement 

Leaking radiator fluid leads to $4M settlement 

A man who sustained severe burns from radiator fluid that leaked onto his leg after he was involved in a car crash has reached a $4 million settlement in a product liability lawsuit, his attorneys report.


Taylor Powell and Ellis Lesemann of Lesemann & Associates in Charleston and Ronnie Crosby and Austin Crosby of Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth & Detrick in Hampton report that their client sued the dealership that sold him the late-model vehicle.

Many of the details of the case, including the identities of the parties, were withheld pursuant to a confidentiality agreement. 

Powell said that the client was involved in a T-bone collision that occurred when he pulled out in front of a commercial van. Although the client sustained little injury from the impact itself, the crash left him trapped in the car as the contents of its cooling system leaked into the vehicle. 

“He was pinned in the driver’s cabin until they could separate the vehicles and free him,” Powell said. “While that’s happening, scalding hot radiator fluid is spewing into the cabin on his legs.” 

Powell said that the man suffered deep burns, some of which penetrated all the way to the bone. He still has scarring and mobility issues, and his gait has been impacted. 


“He was hospitalized for months,” Powell said. “Even [during outpatient treatment], he was still receiving semi-regular treatment for the scar tissue and the tissues that had been damaged a year after the accident.” 

The suit alleged negligent design under a theory of strict liability. 

“If the product fails and you’ve put it into the stream of commerce, either as a maker or seller or secondary seller, you are ultimately responsible under warranty theories,” Powell said. 

Powell said that although his client was at fault in the collision, that fact was irrelevant since comparative fault isn’t admissible in product liability crashworthiness cases. 

“It doesn’t matter who caused the wreck if the defect in the vehicle is what ultimately caused his injuries.” 

Powell said that errors by the defendant’s insurance adjuster in failing to file a timely answer resulted in a default judgment which established liability. A settlement was reached before the court could rule on damages.

Ronnie Crosby

Powell said that the defect which injured his client could have been foreseen. 

Austin Crosby

“The driver and passenger cabin should be designed as such that if there is an impact, scalding hot fluid shouldn’t be pouring in on people.” 


Amount: $4 million 

Injuries alleged: Third-degree burns to the legs and feet 

Case name: Confidential 

Court: Confidential 

Special damages: $581,302.39 in past medical expenses 

Attorneys) for plaintiff: J. Taylor Powell and Ellis Lesemann of Lesemann & Associates in Charleston and Ronnie Crosby and Austin Crosby of Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth & Detrick in Hampton 

Attorneys for defendant: Confidential 

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