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The move comes days after a Texas jury awarded more than a one hundred twenty million dollar verdict against one automaker for a problem



hundred twenty million dollar verdict against one automaker for a problem

car companies admit would only cost a couple of dollars to fix.>

living with the consequences. In 2012 he was sitting behind his father and

the family`s Audi sedan when it was rear-ended.>

KRIS VAN CLEAVE (CBS News Transportation Correspondent): Good morning. The move comes days after a Texas jury awarded more than a one hundred twenty million dollar verdict against one automaker for a problem car companies admit would only cost a couple of dollars to fix. And children are paying the price. Some of the images you are about to see may be disturbing.

(Begin VT)

KRIS VAN CLEAVE: It happens in an instant. An eleven-year-old Jesse Rivera Junior is living with the consequences. In 2012 he was sitting behind his father and the family`s Audi sedan when it was rear-ended.

JESSE RIVERA SR. (Father): We`re constantly told put your children in the back seat, you know, you just don`t know that this danger is there.

KRIS VAN CLEAVE: Jesse Senior`s seat broke launching him head first into his son, both were taken to the hospital where his wife Kathy broke the news.

JESSE RIVERA SR.: She said it`s bad. He`s-- he`s got a real bad head injury and-- and we-- he may not make it through the night. And so-- so I started praying again. I said, God, please, don`t take my boy.

KRIS VAN CLEAVE: Jesse was left with permanent brain damage. After watching crash test videos like this, the jury ruled young Jesse`s injuries resulted from Audi`s "gross negligence." In a deposition for the case a company engineer said the car was designed so someone in the back seat would ".support the front seat with his knees..." And here is the Audi attorney talking to the EMT who responded to the accident scene.

MAN #1: So you`re saying that the seat is supposed to do that?

MAN #2: Absolutely. Proudly so.

MAN #1: Oh.

MAN #2: It is absorbing energy.

KRIS VAN CLEAVE: Those Audi seats met or exceeded the federal standard for strength. A standard so low, even a banquet chair could pass.

MAN #3: It`s two hundred.

KRIS VAN CLEAVE: So that passes?

MAN #4: That passes the standard.

KRIS VAN CLEAVE: Nearly every major American, Japanese and Korean automaker has seen similar cases recently. Internal documents show carmakers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA have known about the potential for seatback collapses for decades.

JESSE RIVERA SR.: Shame on them. My boy wouldn`t be hurt if they`d done their job.

KRIS VAN CLEAVE: NHTSA insist it has looked into the issue but it is very challenging to upgrade the standard because these accidents are so rare. Our CBS News investigation has, so far, identified more than one hundred people nationally who were severely injured or killed in apparent seatback failures since 1989, most were children. Seventeen have died in the past fifteen years alone. Like seven-year-old Crystal Butler.

STEPHANIE COLLINS (Crystal Butler`s Mother): My child got turned into a human safety device, an airbag. She saved my life. It wasn`t supposed to be that way.

KRIS VAN CLEAVE: Improving the seats wouldn`t necessarily be expensive. In an earlier case, one engineer being deposed said strengthening them would cost on the order of a dollar or so. This morning the Center for Auto Safety is filing a petition with NHTSA, urging the agency to warn parents of the potential danger and create a new seatback standard.

CLARENCE DITLOW (Center for Auto Safety Executive Director): There`s no excuse for NHTSA`s inaction on this serious safety defect.

KRIS VAN CLEAVE: Sir, I`m Kris Van Cleave from CBS News.

We`ve tried for months to get NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind to talk to us about this issue. In a statement he says ".the agency`s seatback standard is decades old.." But ".we`re working to improve our ability to quantify potential safety benefits." And ".we`re committed to saving lives through every tool available." Efforts that come too late for the Rivera family.

JESSE RIVERA SR.: Your children are at risk, and if you don`t write your legislator and tell him to do something about this thing, nothing is going to be done, and more children are going to get hurt. And it could be your child.

(End VT)

KRIS VAN CLEAVE: The jury found Jesse`s father partially responsible because he wasn`t wearing a seat belt and his son wasn`t in a booster seat. In a statement Audi told us they are not pleased with the verdict and will evaluate their next legal steps. Norah.

NORAH O`DONNELL: Kris, I had to ask you, so does every car have this problem?

KRIS VAN CLEAVE: So, Norah, our safety experts tell us that all makes and models of Mercedes, BMW and Volvo have seats that are designed not to fail. Beyond that, it really varies from carmaker to carmaker and even model to model how strong the seats are.


GAYLE KING: All right.

NORAH O`DONNELL: --important information there. Kris, thank you so much.

GAYLE KING: But it really doesn`t make sense that they can fix it for under two dollars and that people aren`t doing that.


GAYLE KING: Raises some very interesting questions.


GAYLE KING: Very scary stuff.


All right. Coming up, tennis star Maria Sharapova faces heat from some of her fellow players. Ahead, the growing fallout over her drugs scandal.

Plus, a remarkable escape for a reporter on live TV, the quick thinking that may have saved this man.

But first it is seven-forty-six. Let`s take a check of your local weather.


CONAN O`BRIEN (Conan TBS): One of the things revealed in Hillary Clinton`s e-mails is that she doesn`t know how charge an iPad. Yeah, today Bill Clinton said that`s funny she`s really good at checking an iPad`s browser history.

NORAH O`DONNELL: A California news crews survived a terrifying close call while reporting on the air live.

ALEX SAVIDGE: -- confusing situation--

NORAH O`DONNELL: The car flew out of control after a crash nearly hitting reporter Alex Savidge from KTVU. He was covering that commuter train derailment we showed you yesterday.

CHARLIE ROSE: Did he see (INDISTINCT) his eye?



GAYLE KING: He saw it through the lens.

NORAH O`DONNELL: Well, listen--

GAYLE KING: He told the guy to get out of the way.

NORAH O`DONNELL: Yes. Savidge at the end thanked his photographer Chip Vaughan on the air saying that split second warning may have saved his life as the car barreled toward him.

GAYLE KING: Not that he need another reason but it`s always good to be good to the crew, if that guy just saved his life.

NORAH O`DONNELL: That`s right.

GAYLE KING: If something`s burning down, I want Klaus (ph) to carry me out of here. Putting it out.

NORAH O`DONNELL: Klaus, you got it?


KLAUS: I got it.

NORAH O`DONNELL: Over the shoulder.



GAYLE KING: Gayle, let`s go. Come on, Charlie and Norah run. See. He can pick me up.

The music world remembers legendary record producer George Martin. Ahead, we`ll look at how Martin shaped the sound of the Beatles. Jon Levy of Rolling Stone magazine is in Studio 57. You`re watching CBS THIS MORNING.



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