A North Texas couple was awarded $42 million after they were trapped in their burning car following faulty repair work by a body shop.
The couple from Murphy suffered burns and serious injuries during the December 2013 crash in the used car. The lawsuit claimed that repair work left the car structurally unsound.
Matthew and Marcia Seebachan's lives are changed forever and are hoping the verdict can save the lives of others who may be driving compromised vehicles and not even know it.
"When I saw the fire rise up under my legs, it was at that point that I knew my life was in danger,” Matthew recalled.
It was 2013 just before Christmas when the couple was driving to spend the holidays with family when a vehicle hydroplaned and struck their Honda Fit head on. Matthew was trapped inside the burning car.
“He was having a little trouble getting me out because my feet were trapped under the pedals,” Matthew recalled. “I screamed for my life, ‘Just get me out of here.’"
Matthew spent nearly three years in the hospital with fourth-degree burns and lives with excruciating pain.
The couple hired lawyer Todd Tracy who told them as bad as the crash looks, they should've been able to walk away from it. He zeroed in on hail repairs done before the couple purchased the used car.
The lawsuit accused John Eagle Body Shop of using an untested repair method by applying glue instead of welds to secure a replacement roof. The Seebachans say they had no idea the vehicle had even been damaged. They say there was nothing in the vehicle history report.
"To have someone drop on you that it could've been prevented is the worst feeling,” Marcia said. “It just leaves you in shock."
The Seebachans say the $42 million verdict is not just about money.
"That's really what the verdict meant to us is hearing someone tell us what we've been through matters,” Marcia said. “And it matters not just us, but it matters for other people."
Tracy is now separately suing State Farm, accusing the insurance company of pressuring John Eagle to use the untested repair method of gluing the roof.
"The insurance companies bully these body repair shops, bully them by sitting there saying if you don't do it our way we're not gonna pay you,” Tracy said.
State Farm says the allegations in the lawsuit are "not supported by the facts," saying "they are not in line with State Farm's mission to serve the needs of our customers and our long, proud history of advancing vehicle safety."