Auto Products Liability: In Washington DC, US Supreme Court Rejects Ford Motor Corp’s Appeal Over $82.6 Million SUV Rollover Accident Verdict

In Washington DC, the US Supreme Court has rejected Ford Motor Co’s appeal to reverse an $82.6 million auto products liability decision against the auto manufacturer. A jury initially award Benetta Buell-Wilson and her husband $356 million after a 2002 car crash caused her to become a paraplegic. A metal piece had fallen off the vehicle in front of Buell-Wilson’s 1997 Ford Explorer, which rolled over as she swerved the vehicle to avoid striking the object.

Ford has spent the last five years seeking to overturn the auto products liability verdict, which an appellate court later reduced to $82.6 million: $55 million for punitive damages, $5 million for loss of consortium, $18 million for noneconomic damages, and $4.6 million for economic damages.

The Supreme Court already returned the auto products liability lawsuit to the lower courts in 2007 following its Philip Morris USA v. Williams decision, which found that juries can’t make defendants pay punitive damages for harm suffered by people not connected to the case. An appeals court, however, determined that no modification of the previous ruling was necessary.

This time, the Supreme Court refused the case and did not provide commentary.

Automakers can be held liable for auto products liability and wrongful death if a vehicle defect or manufacturing error contributed to causing a catastrophic Washington DC car crash. Car manufacturers have been successfully sued over injuries stemming from tire blowouts, seatbelt defects, brake failure, engine malfunctions, rollover crashes, roof crush incidents, and car defect-related fires.

Auto manufacturers cannot afford to make faulty vehicles because often consequences for car accident victims and their families are life-shattering.

Supreme Court declines appeal in Ford Explorer rollover case, Business Journal, November 30, 2009
Supreme Court rejects Ford’s appeal in rollover case, Los Angeles Times, December 1, 2009
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