Ford Loses In The Latest Round Of Lawsuit Lottery

Do you want proof that our legal system can at times be nothing more than a big game of “lawsuit lottery” where juries arbitrarily give away absolutely insane amounts of corporate money to plaintiffs for the most spurious of reasons? Then look no further than this case

“A jury has ordered the Ford Motor Co. to pay more than $61 million to the family of a 17-year-old boy killed in a roll-over accident when his friend fell asleep while driving an Explorer.

Ford was liable in the accident because it sold a vehicle with poor handling and stability, the jury said Tuesday.

The company planned to appeal, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

…”This tragic accident occurred when the driver of the vehicle fell asleep at the wheel while traveling at highway speeds. Real-world experience and testing show that the Explorer is a safe vehicle, consistently performing as well as or better than other vehicles in its class,” Ford spokeswoman Karen Shaughnessy said.

Hall was reclining in the front passenger seat and wearing his seat belt when the Explorer rolled over four times on State Road 93 in Collier County near Naples in April 1997. He was ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene.

The driver of the 1996 Explorer, Melahn Parker, was charged with careless driving.

…The jury ordered Ford to pay the family $1.2 million in damages, and $60 million for the pain and suffering of Hall and his mother, Joan Hall-Edwards.

Ford was not ordered to pay punitive damages.”

So let’s get this straight: the parents are going to get $61.2 million from Ford because their son was riding in the car with someone who fell asleep and rolled over their Explorer?

Now, the first thought most people might have is why didn’t they sue the driver, Melahn Parker? Because even though Melahn Parker is obviously the person at fault here, he/she doesn’t have $61.2 million sitting around. That’s why they sued Ford despite the fact that the company is no more responsible for their son’s death than Ginsu would have been had Melahn Parker tripped and accidentally plunged a knife into his chest.

But some of you are probably thinking, “Big deal, they’re sticking it to Ford. Ford has all the money in the world and if they have to give some of it to some family that lost their kid, that’s OK.”

Wrong answer, fella. That $61.2 million? Ford is going to pass that on to their customers. That means anyone who buys Ford products will pay the cost of this lawsuit and the cost of the numerous similar lawsuits that will be filed if this case is ultimately successful. That means a lot of average people will pay more so the Hall family can get an undeserved payday.

It’s also possible that Ford won’t be able to pass on all of these expenses to their customers, which may mean that they’ll have to cut costs — and $61.2 million pays a lot of salaries. Slick lawyers who bring these sort of cases always like to claim that they’re “looking out for the little guy.” Are they still “looking out for the little guy” if, let’s say, 50 of Ford’s employees are fired as a result of this lawsuit?

What we need to do is put an end to frivolous lawsuits and outrageous jury awards like this one via tort reform. In the end, that would do more to “look out for the little guy” than every lawyer in America is doing today.

Hat tip to Say Uncle & Ravenwood’s Universe for the story.

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