Huge loss for Ford in case about rollover of 1997 Ford Explorer SUV  

redmustang91 57M  
8703 posts
7/20/2006 9:05 am

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7/20/2006 9:07 am

Huge loss for Ford in case about rollover of 1997 Ford Explorer SUV

On appeal the court reduce a huge verdict against Ford for a rollover design defect case which left an active married women a pain ridden parapeligic. the roof could have been stregthened for $20 per vehicle and Ford declined to spend the money. the stability could have been increased to avoid the rollovers but Ford chose not to over the objections of its engineers to save time and money! punitive damages was fully justified but reduced by trial judge and on appeal. Another reason I hate SUV's, those gas-guzzling unstable death traps that block the vision of less piggish vehicles... Case summary:

In design defect suit against car manufacturer by driver severely injured in rollover crash, trial court did not abuse discretion in admitting evidence that earlier model created by company contained dangerous design flaws similar to those in driver’s later-designed car where evidence was relevant to prove cause of later-designed car’s defect and to show company knew it was designing and manufacturing an unsafe vehicle. Court did not err in excluding company’s expert testimony regarding comparative rollover rate where evidence that defendant met industry's customs or standards on safety is irrelevant, unreliable, and misleading. Noneconomic damages award as remitted by court of approximately $65 million to driver was excessive, resulting from passion and prejudice, and must be reduced to $18 million where remitted award was three-to-five times amount that plaintiffs’ counsel suggested to jury was fair, reasonable, and just, and amounted to extremely high amount of $1.8 million per year over driver’s projected life span of 35 years. Constitutional due process limitations applicable to punitive damages awards do not apply to compensatory damages awards. Two- to - one ratio of punitive damages was sufficient maximum where company’s conduct was highly reprehensible because it recklessly disregarded safety of consumers by failing to warn them about clearly known design defects causing stability problems, acts were result of deliberate decisions by management to expose consumers to unreasonable risk of harm, company had repeated pattern of ignoring deficient safety design in favor of increased financial returns, plaintiff driver’s injuries were catastrophic, and compensatory damage award was substantial. Where total remitted compensatory damages award was $27.6 million, punitive damages award of $75 million was excessive and must be reduced to $55 million.
Buell-Wilson v. Ford Motor Company

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