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Lawsuit: BMW door severed Valley Stream man’s thumb

A systems engineer from Valley Stream is suing BMW for $13.5 million after his right thumb was severed when the door of his car closed on it, court records show.

Godwin Boateng, 62, said the injury was caused by the BMW X5’s self-closing door feature, which does not have a sensor to detect whether there is an object or body part in the door’s path.

He said in the court papers that he was standing next to the driver’s door on July 6, 2016, when it closed automatically and crushed and severed about half his thumb.

His lawsuit, filed in federal court in Brooklyn in January, seeks $3 million in lost wages from his job as a self-employed systems engineer, and the rest in damages a jury might award.

Soft-closing automatic doors have been offered by BMW as an option since 2002, according to the lawsuit. Boateng bought the 2013 BMW X5 for about $70,000, his lawyer said.

A sensor detects when a door is being closed and an electric motor kicks in and automatically closes it the last 6 millimeters, about one-quarter inch, according to a number of automotive websites.

Boateng’s lawsuit said BMW cars should have door sensors similar to its window sensors, which automatically reverse the movement of a closing window when an object or body part obstructs it.

Three people, in a class-action lawsuit against BMW in federal court in California in 2016, claimed the cars should have had a sensor installed to prevent the doors from closing on a body part.

BMW argued in court papers that the plaintiffs were second-guessing its design work and had not established that the injuries were due to a faulty design.

Judge Beth Labson Freeman of the Northern District dismissed the lawsuit last year, ruling that the lack of a finger-detecting sensor was not a design flaw or defect in terms of the lawsuit.

“Any person, by the time they are old enough to get near a car door, knows that you do not put your finger in the door,” the judge said in her ruling.

Boateng’s lawyer, Avinoam Cohen of Valley Stream, argued in court papers that the California case did not apply because — among other things — the injuries there were not as serious.

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