A jury has ruled in favor of the Ford Motor Company in a lawsuit filed by a former Ohio police officer against the car manufacturer. After suffering burns that covered more than 30 percent of his body in a car accident, the officer accused Ford of safety lapses, arguing that a defect in the design of his vehicle's gas tank ultimately caused it to catch fire and lead to his serious personal injury.
While an attorney for Ford described the accident as tragic, he denied that the company was liable for the officer's injuries. He explained that the officer's cruiser had passed all safety guidelines set by the state and federal governments.
Although the officer and his wife gave an emotional testimony regarding the suffering caused by the injury and how it had affected their lives, the majority of the trial was technical in nature, with both parties presenting graphs and charts regarding government testing and materials deformation. Testimony from engineers was also included as evidence.
The jury resolved the case quickly, however, after a series of nine questions. The first asked if the officer could prove that an alternative design for the Ford's fuel tank would have prevented the cruiser from catching fire after being struck. Most of the jurors did not believe that such an argument could be supported by facts presented in the case and returned a verdict in favor of Ford in two hours.
The officer and his wife, who were seeking $17 million in damages, have not yet announced if they plan to appeal the verdict.
As this case shows, proving negligence in certain situations can be very difficult. However, it is possible to hold someone accountable if they caused serious injury or harm to someone. If you feel that you have been harmed by someone else's negligence, an experienced civil litigation attorney can help determine if you have a strong case.
Source: WFMJ, "Verdict favors Ford Motor Company in Austintown police crash," Glenn Stevens, 27 July 2011