A product liability lawsuit has found that the Ford Motor Company was at least partially responsible for defects in a vehicle and should pay for their role in a catastrophic accident. It was determined that a dangerous tire defect led to an accident that paralyzed a man. The law in Illinois and elsewhere requires that a manufacturer, suppliers of vehicle components, and dealerships selling cars take care to supply the motoring public with safe vehicles, free from dangerous defects.
In this case, the motorist was traveling in a 1989 Ford Bronco II over Labor Day weekend in 2003 when he was unable to maintain control of the car. It left the highway, rolled over and ejected the driver from the vehicle. He suffered both paralysis and cognitive impairment. Doctors say that both conditions are permanent.
His lawsuit targeted Ford as the manufacturer, Firestone Tires as the supplier of an important component, and the dealership which sold him the car. Both the dealership and tire company settled his claims before trial, so the trial involved only Ford's culpability.
The victim asserted that the accident was largely the result of the tread belt coming apart from the tire on the car's left rear wheel. Prior similar incidents had caused other accidents, the plaintiff's attorneys argued. They also contended that the car's design made it more likely that tread belt separation would occur. Not only was the design defective, they claim tthat Ford was aware of this but chose not to take needed remedial action.
The jury in the trial found Ford liable, while concluding that the company did not act with actual malice, and rejected the design defect claim. Further deliberations will determine the exact amount of damages to be awarded for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and disability.
Source: Great Falls Tribune, "Jury finds Ford Motor Co. at fault in civil case," David Murray, April 25, 2012