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Old 07-04-2003, 22:08   #1 (permalink)
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United States:Ford told to pay $1.9 million in officer's death

By Associated Press

HACKENSACK, N.J. -- A police officer's widow who blames his crash death on a defect in his Ford Crown Victoria cruiser has won a $1.9 million jury verdict against the automaker.

Paramus police Officer Vincent M. Brock, 39, was responding to a prank report of shots fired at a restaurant when his car struck a utility pole on Nov. 22, 1993.

Brock's wife Diane sued Ford Motor Co., saying the car had a defect that made it difficult to steer through turns at higher speeds. She said Ford knew about the problem but did nothing to fix it.

"The issue of safety really bothered me," Brock said shortly after the verdict was announced Thursday. "Big business needs to shift its focus from valuing profits to valuing human life."

Ford spokeswoman Kathleen Vokes said the company had not decided whether it would appeal the verdict.

"Our condolences to the family, but the fact of the matter is that this accident was caused by driver error," Vokes said. "It's unfortunate that we have to pay anything at all when the vehicle performed as it was designed."

Crown Victorias are used by most of the nation's police departments, but some police unions and political leaders have complained about its safety record. They say the vehicles are prone to erupt in flames when hit from behind at high speeds. Ford maintains that the cars are safe.
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