A jury decides against Ford after a 12-day trial in the USA. The amount of damages is enormous.
According to the Courtroom View Network (CVN), a jury in Lawrenceville, Georgia, last Friday (August 19, 2022) fined the automobile manufacturer Ford $1.7 billion .7 billion euros) (Hill v. Ford Motor Co, 16-C-04179). Possibly the largest personal injury award in Georgia history comes at the conclusion of a 12-day trial in the 2014 deaths of Voncile and Melvin Hill. The verdict came a day after a Gwinnett County State Court jury awarded $24 million in damages had awarded the couple's deaths. They also found Ford 70 percent responsible for the incident and found that penalties against the vehicle manufacturer were warranted.
However, the fact that Ford was ordered to pay a huge punitive damages payment in this case does not mean that the families of the victims will also receive the huge sum. In Georgia, three quarters of that money always goes to the state. The rest is divided between the plaintiff and the lawyers. The past also shows that very large sums are often reduced in the appeal process.
Tire maker and garage 30 percent complicit
The Hill couple died when a tire came off their 2002 Ford Super Duty F-250 Crew Cab pickup truck on SR 49 in Americus, Georgia, causing it to roll over and crushing the roof of the vehicle. Pictures from the scene of the accident show the red pick-up lying on the roof, which was crushed down to the doors. As a result, the bereaved claim that the death could have been avoided by a stronger roof construction.
Although both the manufacturer of the blown tire (Cooper Tires) and the Pep Boys auto repair shop that installed the tire were originally named as defendants, neither Pep Boys nor Cooper were represented at the trial. And that's despite the fact that a jury on Wednesday attributed Pep Boys with 30 percent complicity in the accident.
Not the first fatal accident
The trial against Ford largely focused on damages after a misjudgment in 2018 led to sanctions against the automaker. Including findings in favor of the Hill family regarding their claims of defective construction and failure to give warning. However, as penalties remained at issue, Ford's design decisions remained a key bone of contention in the process. Ford argued that the Hills' rollover was a serious, exceptional accident and that the roof in question protected against the vast majority of common rollover accidents.
Huie, Fernambucq & Stewart's Paul Malek, in closing arguments in the first phase of the process, referred to years of design and safety studies that showed the company's roofs adequately protected the occupants. He added that these studies also concluded that the alternative safety measures Ford is investing in instead of stronger roofs would better protect vehicle occupants. However, attorneys for the Hill family countered that Ford had known about the danger of roof crushing for years but refused to strengthen the roofs to save costs. Mahaffey Pickens Tucker's Gerald Davidson, Jr. reminded jurors of dozens of similar rollover incidents that resulted in death or serious injury. He said that Ford engineers designed a much stronger roof, but that the company had been reluctant to incorporate this design into its vehicles for years. And he added that Ford failed to issue warnings about the roof of the Hills truck.,
In the USA, a jury has ordered the car manufacturer Ford to pay damages of 1.7 billion dollars. The family of a married couple who had an accident complained that the roofs of the F-250 vehicles were too thin and could not provide protection in the event of rollovers.