Jury hits Ford Motor Co with $131 million verdict

SAN FRANCISCO Thu Sep 2, 2010 8:49pm EDT

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A Mississippi jury ordered Ford Motor Co to pay $131 million to the family of a man who died while driving an Explorer, an attorney for the family said on Thursday.

The trial centered on a 2001 accident involving Brian Cole, who at the time had been a prospect for the New York Mets, the family's attorney Tab Turner said.

Turner said that after the jury returned its verdict, Ford reached a settlement with the family. He declined to disclose the amount.

The case was heard in Jasper County Circuit Court.

Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans said Cole had been driving over 80 miles per hour when he went off the road and was not wearing his safety belt. She said Ford would have won the case had the judge not excluded certain pieces of evidence.

"This was a tragic accident and our sympathy goes out to the Cole family for their loss, but it was unfair of them to blame Ford," Evans said.

Ford also declined to disclose the amount of the settlement.

Turner said the damages in this case were higher than other rollover cases because of Cole's profession.

Ford severed a nearly century-old partnership with Firestone in 2001 after blaming the tiremaker for blowouts and rollover accidents that caused a slew of deaths and injuries in rollovers of its Explorer sport utility vehicle.

Ford, which has vigorously denied allegations the Explorer was especially prone to rollovers, earmarked $2.6 billion in the early part of the decade to replace a total of 19.5 million Firestone tires.

The automaker has also spent an unknown amount on settlements of wrongful death lawsuits involving the Explorer.

(Reporting by Dan Levine and Bernie Woodall)

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Comments (4)
SPCmahoney wrote:
So, I guess his tire blow out? Article doesn’t say, but it mentions the problems with tires blowing out at the bottom. I mean it must have or else they wouldn’t have paid this money, right?

Sep 03, 2010 1:16am EDT  --  Report as abuse
SPCmahoney wrote:
Nope. Just looked at other articles. The tire didn’t blow out. They paid because the vehicle has a tendency to roll over. Okay, whatever.

Sep 03, 2010 1:26am EDT  --  Report as abuse
alch1299 wrote:
the seat belt also was afactor in this case…he could not escape

Sep 03, 2010 2:55am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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