Ford appeals $1.7 billion US verdict in civil suit after fatal F-250 pickup truck crash | Rare Techy


Ford Motor Co. plans to appeal a US$1.7 billion (Cdn2.2 billion) judgment against the automaker following a pickup truck crash that claimed the lives of a Georgia couple, a company spokesman said Sunday.

Jurors in Gwinnett County, northeast of Atlanta, returned a verdict late last week in a years-long civil case involving what plaintiffs’ attorneys called dangerously defective roofs on Ford pickup trucks, attorney James Butler Jr. said Sunday.

Melvin and Voncile Hill were killed in April 2014 when their 2002 Ford F-250 rolled over. Their children, Kim and Adam Hill, were the wrongful death plaintiffs.

“While our condolences go out to the Hill family, we do not believe the verdict is supported by the evidence and plan to appeal,” Ford said in a statement to The Associated Press on Sunday.

Butler said he was stunned by the evidence in the case.

“I used to buy Ford trucks,” Butler said Sunday. “I thought nobody would sell a truck with a flimsy roof like that. The damn thing is useless in a wreck. You might as well drive a convertible.”

In closing arguments, lawyers hired by the company defended the actions of Ford and its engineers.

The Michigan-based automaker sought to defend itself against allegations that “Ford and its engineers acted knowingly and unwittingly with a conscious indifference to the safety of the occupants of their cars when they made decisions about the strength of the roof,” attorney William said. Withrow Jr. said in his closing arguments, according to a court transcript.

The allegation that Ford was irresponsible and intentionally made decisions that put customers at risk “simply is not true,” another defense attorney, Paul Malek, said in the same closing argument.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs had presented evidence of nearly 80 similar rollover wrecks in which truck roofs were crushed, injuring or killing drivers, Butler law firm Butler Prather LLP said in a statement.

“More deaths and serious injuries are certain with millions of these trucks on the road,” Butler’s co-counsel Gerald Davidson said in a statement.

“Punitive damages to warn people driving around in the millions of trucks sold by Ford was the reason the Hill family sought the judgment,” Butler said.


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