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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-05-2004, 06:10 PM Thread Starter
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Jury punishes Ford in SUV rollover case - 386 million

From the Detroit Free Press:

Jury punishes Ford in SUV rollover case
$368.6 million is awarded in total damages

June 4, 2004
BY MARGARET CRONIN FISK
BLOOMBERG

Ford Motor Co. must pay $246 million in punitive damages to a California woman who was paralyzed when her Explorer sport-utility vehicle rolled over, a jury in San Diego ruled Thursday.
The state court jury awarded accident victim Benetta Buell-Wilson $122.6 million in actual damages Tuesday, for a total award of $368.6 million. The total judgment, the first damages award against Ford in an Explorer rollover case, is the second-largest ever against an automaker, according to Bloomberg data.
Buell-Wilson, 49, was injured in January 2002 when her 1997 Explorer flipped over as she tried to steer around a metal obstruction on a highway. Buell-Wilson's case said the Explorer's design made it prone to roll over during common evasive driving maneuvers. She and her husband alleged the vehicle's roof was too weak to withstand a rollover. Ford said there were no defects.

"We can appreciate the empathy that this jury felt for the plaintiff, but this was an extremely severe crash initiated by the driver and any SUV would have rolled over under similar circumstances," Ford spokeswoman Kathleen Vokes said. "The evidence shows the Explorer is a safe vehicle," she said. Ford will appeal, she said.

Verdicts are often reduced on appeal. The U.S. Supreme Court has said that punitive damages should not exceed actual damages by ratios of 10 to 1 or more unless unusually bad conduct is involved. In the case of large actual damages, punitive awards should be roughly equal to actual damages, the court said in a 2003 ruling.

The reputation of the Explorer, the best-selling SUV, was hurt by a U.S. investigation into at least 271 highway deaths involving tread separation by Bridgestone Corp.'s Firestone tires, mostly on Explorers. Ford settled hundreds of lawsuits over rollovers related to tire failures.

Ford has been sued several hundred times over Explorer rollovers in cases that don't involve tire failures. Ford has settled many of these cases and, until Buell-Wilson's lawsuit, won the rest at trial.

In 11 of these rollover trials, the accident victims claimed the Explorer was inherently unstable. The other two involved roof crush claims, Vokes said. The jury in the Buell-Wilson case found against Ford on both defect allegations, she said.

The Explorer is the top-selling sport-utility vehicle. Ford sold 373,118 Explorers in 2003, down from 433,847 in 2002.
Shares of Ford fell 14 cents to $14.75 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The verdict is also the sixth-largest jury award of any kind in 2004.
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-05-2004, 06:41 PM
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Re: Jury punishes Ford in SUV rollover case - 386 million

There's a big thing out involving 15 or so passenger vans too. The testing is unbelieveable. With them half full doing an evasive manuver they can flip easier than an Explorer can. They showed the Ford example without any type of stability system and it rolled up onto it's saftey things a few times before settling down back to the ground, the GMC though did 100% better because of Stabil-Trac (which is standard now on vans like that from GM). I imagine the Dodge Maxi-Van was the same exact way also. SUV's like the Explorer, Durango, Grand Cherokee (which the next model will) should have a stability program standard. Good thing the Sprinter does, imagine that thing.

I do think the verdict is a bit high though, it will most likely be stepped down a notch on appeals.


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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-05-2004, 07:03 PM
 
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I think that's bullshit. There are warnign every where in SUVs about rollover potential. Obviously she shouldn't have been driving one in the first place if she didn't know it wouldn't hanlde like a normal car.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-05-2004, 07:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by milewsky80
I think that's bullshit. There are warnign every where in SUVs about rollover potential. Obviously she shouldn't have been driving one in the first place if she didn't know it wouldn't hanlde like a normal car.
I agree on that. Driving an SUV is totally different than a car, but if the roof didn't withstand impact...which if I'm not mistaken is required by federal law then thats a problem.
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-06-2004, 10:27 AM Thread Starter
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Yeah the rear wheel drive vans are iffy when loaded, that's why the Germans decided to drop the Ram van, the sales figures make them profitable but that's without the upgrades needed. I wouldn't be surprised to see Chevy or Ford drop theirs too.

As far as the rollover for the Explorer, that's a touchy issue. Firestone and Ford are both to blame, but Ford is more responsible than Firestone. I wouldn't own a set of Firestone's but when the manufacturer has the air pressure 6 pounds below the tire manufacturer's minimum that's a disaster waiting to happen.

Some of Ford's engineers testified to the same thing in court. Reminds me of the Pinto case where the lawyers said why spend 2 bucks a car, it's cheaper to fight them in court. Another reason why I'll never own a Ford product.
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-06-2004, 03:30 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by milewsky80
I think that's bullshit. There are warnign every where in SUVs about rollover potential. Obviously she shouldn't have been driving one in the first place if she didn't know it wouldn't hanlde like a normal car.
and we have a winner....if you can't drive it, dont buy it...

but in my local paper, it said she offered to knock $100million off the settlement as long as ford fixed it
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-07-2004, 12:20 AM
 
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I agree with milewsky. This is plain retarded. I'm tired of dipshits whining about "bad design" when they don't know how to drive. All suvs have a high centre of gravity and are prone to rollover. You can't expect to handle them like a car. So no pedal to the metal, no hard braking, and no wild swerves either. Drive defensively, and anticipate road hazards before you're in the middle of them. Learn how to drive a truck before buying one. If you don't know how to drive it, simply don't buy it.

On a side note, anyone here willing to bet this suv owner never even towed a trailer or went 4 wheeling?
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-07-2004, 12:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by insane driver


On a side note, anyone here willing to bet this suv owner never even towed a trailer or went 4 wheeling?

I think it's a total of 10 percent of people actually take their SUV off road.
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-07-2004, 12:41 AM
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-07-2004, 12:41 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by frost5466
I think it's a total of 10 percent of people actually take their SUV off road.
maybe where you are....here its like 3%
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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-07-2004, 12:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by 340duster
maybe where you are....here its like 3%

That's a national average...you have to factor in the whole country...in some areas like NYC would be Zero....unless you consider getting pissed and driving down the sidewalk "off roading"
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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-07-2004, 12:55 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by frost5466
....unless you consider getting pissed and driving down the sidewalk "off roading"
you mean its not? damn...our percentage just dropped to one...
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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-07-2004, 01:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by 340duster
you mean its not? damn...our percentage just dropped to one...
LOL! :hehe: :hehe:
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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-07-2004, 03:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by frost5466
I think it's a total of 10 percent of people actually take their SUV off road.
Only Landrover (Defenders included) and Jeep admitted that 10% of their customers take their SUVs offroad. The industry average is much, much lower when models like Rav4 and CRVs are considered.

If you roll an SUV over, you're the one to blame. We should start sueing Freightliner and Perterbilt for building top heavy semis, I'm sure they roll more easily than an Explorer. And sue Chevy for building Corvettes that are prone to damage during offroad driving...
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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 06-07-2004, 03:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by RJ
Only Landrover (Defenders included) and Jeep admitted that 10% of their customers take their SUVs offroad. The industry average is much, much lower when models like Rav4 and CRVs are considered.


No it's still 10 percent total even when factoring in Rav4's and CRVs, because that total includes Explorer's (which the Explorer out sells alot)
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