Audi ordered to pay $124 million in suit

A Texas jury ordered Volkswagen’s Audi unit to pay $124.5 million to an 11-year-old boy who was left brain damaged in a 2012 rear-end collision.

The parents of Jesse Rivera Jr. claimed that the seat back of the 2005 Audi A4 was too weak to withstand a rear-end crash. The front seat collapsed and the driver, the boy’s father, slid backward, hitting his head on his son’s in the back seat, said the family’s attorney, Jeff Wigington.

Audi denied any defects or fault for the boy’s injuries. Audi is “not pleased with the verdict and we will evaluate the next steps to be taken,” said Mark Clothier, a company spokesman.

The San Antonio jury Wednesday found Audi 55 percent responsible, assigning 25 percent blame to the driver who rear-ended Rivera, and 20 percent to the father. Audi is liable for the whole award under Texas law, Wigington said in an interview.

Jesse Rivera Jr. was also partially paralyzed and blinded in his right eye, Wigington said. The accident occurred as Jesse Rivera Sr. stopped for a school bus, the lawyer said. The father wasn’t injured.

The verdict doesn’t include punitive damages.

— Bloomberg News

Uber, Orlando suburb team on public transit

A Florida city is testing whether it can save millions of dollars in road-building and other public transportation expenses by subsidizing the cost of rides with Uber Technologies.

On March 21, Altamonte Springs, an Orlando suburb, will become the nation’s first city to pay a part of the fare for all trips with Uber within its limits, said Christine Mitchell, Uber general manager in Central Florida.

Altamonte Springs has budgeted $500,000, partly from local businesses, for a year-long study during which it will pick up 20 percent of all Uber rides in city limits, and 25 percent for those to or from its SunRail commuter rail station.

“It is infinitely cheaper than the alternatives,” said City Manager Frank Martz. “A mile of road costs tens of millions of dollars.”

Some economics and public policy experts disagree.

“I see this plan as blowing [the city’s] budget out of the water,” said Joann Weiner, an economics professor at George Washington University. Subsidies usually cause costs to increase because someone else is picking up part of the tab, she said.

— Reuters

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