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Honda witness destroyed proof

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WASHINGTON -- A leading expert witness who has testified on behalf of automakers in vehicle rollover trials destroyed evidence in a high-profile case involving Honda Motor Co., according to a California court ruling unsealed this week.

The expert, Robert Gratzinger, is an engineer who worked for General Motors Corp. and Nissan Corp. between 1971 and 1994. He has testified about the safety of roof designs and seat belts for GM, Ford, Nissan, Toyota and Mazda and Isuzu in addition to Honda.

In a 2002 case involving a 17-year-old girl paralyzed after a 1993 Honda Civic overturned, Gratzinger deliberately destroyed evidence that suggested the victim was belted at the time of the crash, according to a ruling by California Superior Court Judge James Garbolino.

The ruling, which had been sealed since 2002, said Gratzinger's tampering made a fair trial impossible. Garbolino directed a verdict in favor of the crash victim, Sarah Davis. Garbolino said Honda was trying to "win by cheating."

In an Oct. 3, 2002, court order, Garbolino said that during the trial, Gratzinger was given permission to examine the Civic that crashed. During his examination of the victim's seat belt, Gratzinger applied a grease rag, destroying marks on the belt that could have determined whether Davis wore the belt -- a key issue in whether the design of the vehicle contributed to her injuries.

"It is the court's opinion that the conduct by Honda defendants is of a most serious and egregious nature," Garbolino wrote. "This conduct should trigger a sanction which not only punishes Honda for its deliberate destruction of evidence which supports plantiffs case, but should deter future similar conduct."

Full Story: http://www.detnews.com/2005/autosinsider/0.../C01-371860.htm
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That's dispicable! I'm appalled! For those of you curious, I'd say the same thing if GM was in this position. There's no place for something like this in our society.
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Lowest form of human nature at its play. Thats disgusting! Edited by ConceptVBS
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Wow.... all my automotive favoritism aside that is terrible. It's sad that some girl was paralized and even sadder that this would happen to the evidence.
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I would expect this from Joe Isuzu, but not you, Mr. Opportunity...
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Sounds fishy to me. Why is the plaintif's law firm taking it to court before they collected evidence she was wearing a seatbelt? Unless there was no evidence to begin with. I'm not familiar with crash investigation, but I wonder what marks on a seatbelt could be removed by a grease rag. I thought you normally examined the victim to determine whether they were wearing a seatbelt.
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Sounds fishy to me. Why is the plaintif's law firm taking it to court before they collected evidence she was wearing a seatbelt? Unless there was no evidence to begin with. I'm not familiar with crash investigation, but I wonder what marks on a seatbelt could be removed by a grease rag. I thought you normally examined the victim to determine whether they were wearing a seatbelt.

[post="38778"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]

True, any victim wearing a seatbelt in a major crash will have minor to major bruises on the shoulder / upper chest area. In rollovers/major crashes the waist may bruise as well.
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Wouldn't there be small, perhaps even microscopic, tears in the seatbelt instead of marks? I'm really curious as to what types of marks the body leaves on seatbelts in the event of a crash. In the event this is true, I'm profoundly disgusted. The victim should sue this "expert" witness and Honda for putting him up as one. That being said, I doubt any safety device would have saved this girl from being paralyzed. The fact that she is still alive is pretty amazing. I haven't followed the whole controversy surrounding the strength of car roofs but, honestly, I would just be thankful for being alive if I ever survived an accident where the car flipped over, Arnold-like roof strength or not.
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Wow, how did he get regarded as an expert for so long, I wonder how many cases he has tampered with evidence on.
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I'm sorry guys, but that bastard should be taken out and shot. Its really sad that the car companies (see the article, it mentions that this horse's ass worked for more than Honda) would get paid to go in and be an "expert" witness only to tamper with the evidence that could get safety regulations improved. A person's life is far too valueable a thing to let something like this just get glossed over and forgotten about. And yes, a seatbelt will have essentially stretch marks where it dug into your body during an accident, and your body will have marks on it.
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Wouldn't there be small, perhaps even microscopic, tears in the seatbelt instead of marks?  I'm really curious as to what types of marks the body leaves on seatbelts in the event of a crash.

[post="38831"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


I'm thinking skin cells and possibly stress lines... althought the whole small tears thing might not even be the case..... seat belts are tougher than most people realise. IN the demolition I was not the only one who used Seat belts to fasten down car components like the hood... they are designed to hold like a ton and a half or something outrageous like that. Inertia is a bitch.

Notice the rear seat belt that I recycled as a hood hold down on my Volvo. You can see the passnager side one to the right of the novelty Skull. Hood pins break and get bent out of shape but this is a great method of holding down the hood for the Enduro Races. If they can sustain this kind of abuse without ripping or tearing then a human body probably will not leave much for damage on the belt.


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