U.S.:Ford ordered to pay Georgia family almost $47 million
ATLANTA (Reuters) -- A jury in Georgia has ordered Ford Motor Co. to pay more than $47 million to the family of a young girl who was partially paralyzed after a fold-down seat collapsed in a 2000 crash.
In a judgment issued in Fulton County Superior Court on Wednesday, a jury ordered the Ford to pay nearly $14 million in punitive damages to Rhonda Sasser and her daughter Kelsey because of "conscious indifference" to safety concerns in Ford's 2000 Lincoln LS luxury sedan.
The same jury awarded the family almost $34 million on Tuesday as compensation for pain, expenses and permanently altered life suffered as a result of a crash in southwest Georgia in the summer of 2000.
"Her mother is a single mom and just delighted for the child," said Andrew Scherffius, one of the lawyers representing the Sassers. "But the child is a paraplegic, and there is nothing good to be said about that."
In her lawsuit, Rhonda Sasser claimed Ford knew about a defective safety latch that allowed some rear fold-down seats in its sedan to collapse during crashes.
The seats were designed to fold from the upright position to make room for long items such as skis. One of these seats collapsed on Kelsey Sasser in the summer of 2000 after a collision with a pickup.
The girl, who was 6 at the time, was left paralyzed from the chest down.
The plaintiffs' lawyers told jurors that Ford knew of design problems with the safety latch as early as 1993. The automaker changed its design on its 2001 models of the sedan but did not recall the 2000 model, Scherffius said.
Ford plans to appeal the jury's decision.
"This tragedy occurred because the driver lost control of her vehicle with a child improperly restrained in the front seat," the company said in a statement.
My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.
My next Ford.....