A jury in Georgia has awarded $1.7 billion against Ford Motor for a truck crash that killed a couple, Melvin and Voncile Hill, in April 2014. A lawyer representing Kim and Adam Hill (children of the deceased), James Butler Jr., said the couple died in the crash of their 2002 Ford F-250 due to a defective roof in the vehicle.
“I used to buy Ford trucks,” Butler said on Sunday. “I thought nobody would sell a truck with a roof this weak. The damn thing is useless in a wreck. You might as well drive a convertible.”
The lawyer said Ford, based in Michigan, and its auto engineers deliberately ignored the safety of their customers by making car roofs that would not withstand a serious crash. Butler and co-lawyer Gerald Davidson submitted about 80 pieces of evidence of fatal auto crashes in which people lost their lives or got injured with Ford pickup trucks related to damaged roofs.
Butler and Davidson said that while people will still die or get injured given the millions of Ford pickup trucks on the roads, punitive damage will against Ford alerts customers to the dangers they face riding in the trucks and that this “was the reason the Hill family insisted on a verdict.”
Ford lawyers disagreed with the plaintiff that “Ford and its engineers acted willfully and wantonly, with a conscious indifference for the safety of the people who ride in their cars when they made these decisions about roof strength.” Defense lawyers William Withrow Jr. and Paul Malek and that the evidence submitted by the Hills did not hold up.
“While our sympathies go out to the Hill family, we do not believe the verdict is supported by the evidence, and we plan to appeal,” Withrow and Malek stated.