While it is not uncommon to see damages in excess of one million dollars in traffic accident cases, the amount awarded in this case is one of the highest ever seen.
At the end of this judgment, rendered Friday by a popular jury of Gwinnett County and reported by several American press organs, Ford announced Sunday, to the Wall Street Journal, its intention to appeal this decision “which does not is not supported by evidence”, according to the manufacturer.
Asked by AFP, Ford did not respond immediately.
Melvin and Voncile Hill’s F-250 Super Duty pickup had rolled over after a flat tire while driving on a highway near Americus, Georgia. The roof of the overturned vehicle had caved in, crushing the couple in the cabin. Following this accident, the two children of the couple took legal action and accused Ford of a defect in the design of this model which, according to documents cited by the American media, was involved in dozens of other similar accidents. .
During the trial, which lasted three weeks, Ford’s lawyers cited several design and safety studies that they said showed the roof was strong enough to withstand such an impact.
But the jury nevertheless retained the responsibility of the firm of Dearborn (Michigan) which, according to documents in the file, manufactured approximately 5.2 million copies of this model, from 1999 to 2016, before the roof is not reinforced, from 2017. The envelope of 1.7 billion dollars corresponds to so-called punitive damages, which go beyond the prejudice of the victim or victims and aims to punish the behavior of the author.
They are often proportionate according to the financial capabilities of the person or entity concerned.
On Thursday, the same jury condemned, separately, Ford and the Pep Boys car maintenance chain (for having installed the wrong set of tires) to pay 24 million in damages to the children of the Hill couple, in compensation for their damage.