US:Ford ordered to pay $30.4 million
Ford ordered to pay $30.4 million
Attorneys said girl died when F-150's roof crushed and she was thrown from the pickup truck.
By Jeff Plungis / Detroit News Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON -- A Texas jury ordered Ford Motor Co. Monday to pay the family of a 16-year-old girl $30.4 million to compensate for a fatal 2004 rollover crash in which a pickup truck's roof collapsed.
The attorneys for Jessica Garcia argued that the F-150's roof crushed, and the girl was ejected when her seat belt failed to keep her inside the vehicle when the pickup rolled over. They said Ford's design wasn't safe.
"Ford should treat its customers like prized possessions; instead, it treats them like lab rats," said Mikal Watts, the Garcia family attorney.
The Brownsville, Texas, verdict follows a similar case decided last month -- also argued by Watts --where another Texas jury awarded a family $42 million following the death of a 10-year-old boy killed in an Expedition SUV.
The jury in Brownsville awarded the family $20.4 million in actual damages and $10 million in punitive damages.
Ford said it would appeal the verdict. The company argued that the evidence showed Garcia was not wearing a seat belt, and the crash was caused by a negligent driver striking her vehicle at highway speeds.
"This is another tragic reminder that seat belts can help save lives only when they are worn," said Ford spokeswoman Kathleen Vokes.
Legal observers said that juries are questioning whether automakers have done enough to make top-heavy trucks and SUVs safer in crashes.
"Jurors are finding that manufacturers have done little or nothing to protect occupants in rollovers," said Sean Kane, president of SRS Inc., a Massachusetts safety research firm.
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.....