The Accident Lawyers Network Blog
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
$82.6 Million Award Upheld for Woman Injured in SUV Rollover
The 4th District Court of Appeals in California has upheld damages awarded to a San Diego woman paralyzed when her Ford Explorer flipped. Benetta Buell-Wilson's back was crushed in June, 2002 when she swerved to avoid something in the road. A passenger side wheel lifted off the ground, the SUV fishtailed, and then rolled four and a half times.
Buell-Wilson's lawsuit against Ford alleges that the Explorer's design was flawed due to a high center of gravity and low wheelbase. This made it prone to rollover accidents. The suit also alleges that the Explorer had a weak roof. Buell-Wilson's suit contends that Ford new about the flaws, but did nothing to fix them.
San Diego Superior Court awarded Buell-Wilson and her husband $369 million. $246 million of this was for punitive damages. This was the first verdict against Ford in an Explorer rollover case. The automobile company had previously won at least 12 other rollover cases. This award was reduced to $150 million in 2004. The judge in the case, Kevin A. Enright, agreed with the jury that there was evidence to support the claim that Ford knew of design flaws, but did nothing about it. In 2006, the award was reduced again, this time to $82.6 million. The reason given was that the punitive damages were "excessive" and violated the state law's ban on awards that are the result of "passion or prejudice."
An attorney for Ford says they plan to appeal the decision to the California Supreme Court, or further to the U.S. Supreme Court should the need arise.
If you, or a loved one, have been injured in an SUV rollover, please contact an experienced injury lawyer in your area.
posted by Neil at 8:50 AM
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