Ford Explorer Lawsuit Settled in Case Over a Faulty Seat Belt
Ford Motor Co. has reached a settlement with the family of a 22-year-old Mississippi man who died in a Ford Explorer rollover accident following a tire blowout.
The undisclosed settlement came after a Jasper County jury awarded the family of Brian Cole $131 million at trial. Ford agreed to a settlement after the verdict to avoid a punitive damages award that could have been many times the compensatory amount.
Cole, a 1998 18th-round draft pick for the New York Mets, was killed on March 31, 2001 when the Ford Explorer he was in suffered a tire blowout, leading to a rollover accident that ejected Cole from the vehicle. The wrongful death lawsuit filed by his family claimed that the seat belt failed due to defective design, and argued that Ford Explorers had a tendency to rollover, particularly when a tire blowout was involved.
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It is not the first time the company has had to shell out millions of dollars over claims of Ford Explorer rollover accidents and safety belt failures. In January of this year, the company reached a settlement with Lynn Wheeler, a Georgia woman paralyzed following an accident where the seat belt allegedly failed after the Ford Explorer she was in was rear-ended, slamming her forward as the rear seat collapsed on her. A jury had already awarded her $16 million in damages and the settlement was again to avoid punitive damages that could have cost Ford millions more.
In a Ford Explorer rollover lawsuit in California, a jury awarded Benetta Buell-Wilson $369 million, including $246 million in punitive damages, for a 2002 Ford Explorer rollover accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down. That amount was later reduced to $82.6 million, $55 million of which was punitive damages. Ford failed to get the case heard before the U.S. Supreme Court in December 2009. The automotive company had argued that the punitive award should be thrown out since the Ford Explorer allegedly met federal safety standards.
The decision in favor of Cole’s family came after two previous trials resulted in mistrial. The jury also awarded $1.5 million to Ryan Cole, Brian’s cousin, who was also injured in the crash.
The National Traffic Safety Administration estimates that about 37 percent of fatal automobile accidents are due to SUV rollover accidents. In 2006, the Insurance Information Institute found that SUVs had the highest occupant fatality rate of any vehicle type in rollover accidents, with a fatality rate of 7.77 per 100,000 registered vehicles. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute found that 8,026 occupants of SUVs died in 2006.
sandraMay 31, 2016 at 11:19 pm
The retractor on the seatbelt of a ford failed and my son suffered TBI. Lawyers would not take the case!!!
AnitaDecember 28, 2010 at 11:01 pm
We bought a 2000 Ford Explorer in 2002 at which time it was not under warranty. However and me and my than 7 and 9 year old were stranded on a road between fordyce and little rock Arkansas with no warning the truck over heated. We now are dealing with the truck running 3000 to 4000 rpm with out putting your foot on the eccelerator. Getting it to stop is quite a ordeal. This was very upseting when[Show More]We bought a 2000 Ford Explorer in 2002 at which time it was not under warranty. However and me and my than 7 and 9 year old were stranded on a road between fordyce and little rock Arkansas with no warning the truck over heated. We now are dealing with the truck running 3000 to 4000 rpm with out putting your foot on the eccelerator. Getting it to stop is quite a ordeal. This was very upseting when it started to happen and it is still happening will Ford pay for the repair on this truck? we had the back gate repaired and still can not open the back door on the driver side .Can only open the front door by rolling the window down .We need some help with this truck and what it cost for repair(s).
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