Defense Of “Big 3” Automakers

Continued from Litigation Media – Portfolio



National litigation was brought against General Motors, Ford and Chrysler by a class of plaintiffs, consisting of auto mechanics and factory workers.  The basis of their claim was that they suffered a variety of respiratory ailments, most notably, asbestositis, as a result of their working on brake systems that these manufacturers used in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The “Big 3” auto makers hired McGuire Woods, one of the world’s largest and most respected law firms, as part of their defense team.


The “Big 3’s” law firm retained me

I was retained by McGuire Woods’ world headquarters in Richmond, VA to consult on, design and direct the production of a series of 3D computer-animated visualizations to depict the following, to educate jurors:

  • Simulated braking dynamics of 1960s-era domestic autos
  • A nondescript 1960’s/early 1970’s-era sedan on a braking “skid pad” (test track)
  • The great extent to which the “Big 3” worked to achieve shorter braking distances than the government required, using brakes constructed with the only material it permitted, because of its superior performance characteristics: asbestos
  • The practical implications of asbestos vs. non-asbestos braking systems

The resulting animations were integrated into a larger multimedia presentation (produced by DecisionQuest) that was shown to juries nationwide.

“We cannot be happier with the quality of the animations you produced for us.  (They will) help tremendously in this national litigation, and I expect juries will relate well, regardless of their geographic location.”

Samuel L. Tarry, Jr., attorney, McGuire Woods


The animations and storyboards

Below are the three animations that I designed and directed the production of, followed by the storyboards I created, upon which they are based:

(1) TEST 1: PASS: Establishing the “skid pad” components; a nondescript 1960s-style auto with (government-mandated) asbestos brakes “passes” the test of government performance regulations:

(2) TEST 2: FAIL: The same auto, without asbestos brakes, “fails” the test of government performance regulations:

(3) TEST 3: MANUFACTURER TARGET: As a safety measure, the “Big 3” worked to engineer brake systems to exceed the performance required by government performance regulations:

Below is a document containing my:

  • Letter of appreciation from McGuire Woods
  • Sketches for the nondescript 1960s-era car
  • Layout of the skid pad
  • Storyboards for the three animations, above


Big 3 Storyboards by jonsutz


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