Couple Wins $42M After Car Roof Was Glued Back Together

Devastating Crash Resulted from Faulty Roof Repairs

A Texas couple, Marcia and Matthew Seebachan, survived a horrendous wreck, and were just awarded $42 Million because of a faulty repair that nearly cost them their lives. Although the wreck had no direct correlation to the repair, the amount of damage done by the wreck was amplified by a faulty roof which left the car structurally unsound. What had started as a repair for hail damage, inevitably led to the roof being GLUED back into place, despite Honda’s guidelines to weld it into position.

To make things more interesting, the used 2010 Honda Fit had been purchased by the couple only 4 months prior to the wreck, and the original repairs to the roof never surfaced on the CarFax report supplied by the dealership at the time of that sale. The couple did have lawsuits against the dealership and Honda, which were both dismissed after the $42M ruling. Things get even more interesting as we delve into the details of the case.

According to court documents, the roof was supposed to be welded back along the edges you see pictured below. Instead of welds, a 3M 8115 panel bonding adhesive was used. The area in which the roof is connected onto the vehicle is known as the “safety cage”. This cage provides support to the passengers in case of a collision, and is meant to keep all of the debris from the wreck, and deadly forces involved, channeled away from those inside. Instead of doing so, the roof separated where it had been glued, and the safety cage collapsed around them. The doors caved in, trapping them inside the vehicle. The fuel system running below the cage was compromised resulting in a fire which severely burned both passengers. The door frame and floorboard also become deformed, allowing the fire below to enter the cabin quickly through a gap.

Marcia Seebachan managed to get free from the vehicle within a matter of moments, but Matthew was not so lucky. He was not only trapped inside while the car was on fire, but he was conscious when the fire started to engulf him. The case ruling was so extreme due to the sheer volume of emotional and physical damages done during the wreck.

All of the facts come down to how much support that roof really provides, and who made the call to repair it like that. While some say State Farm had a hand in making that decision, there is still a lawsuit pending against them that will make that determination later down the line. As for the structural support of the roof, the video below explains more about how it works and what makes the roof so important, for those who might not understand.

Just remember, CarFax reports are NOT all-inclusive, obviously. They help provide some information if it is there, but the system is not foolproof. Shops have been known to cut corners, and it is incredibly unfortunate that these techs had to learn the hard way that you do not mess with the structural stability of the vehicle at any time.

Categories: Automotive News, Fails & Crashes