Tort Law

Georgia jury reaches $1.7B verdict in case over Ford truck crash

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A jury in Georgia decided Friday that the Ford Motor Co. must pay $1.7 billion in punitive damages in a product liability trial involving its F-250 pickup trucks.

The case in Gwinnett County, Georgia, state court arose after the 2014 deaths of Melvin and Voncile Hill, who were riding in one of the trucks when its tire blew out and it rolled off the road. Their adult children, Kim Hill and Adam Hill, who filed the lawsuit against Ford, allege that the crushed roof of the truck caused their deaths.

“The Hills wanted punitive damages,” lead plaintiff counsel and Georgia attorney Jim Butler told the Daily Report, which also reported that Georgia caps punitive damages awards at $250,000 in all cases except for product-defect cases. He presented nearly 80 similar cases in which people were injured or killed by defective roofs in the same Ford truck.

“This is the largest verdict by far in Georgia history—eclipsing the previous verdict of $454 million in the Six Flags case 24 years ago,” Butler also reportedly said.

According to the Daily Report, he represented Six Flags Over Georgia in its business tort case against the Time Warner Entertainment Co.

A Ford corporate representative said the company will challenge the award.

“While our sympathies go out to the Hill family, we do not believe the verdict is supported by the evidence and we plan to appeal,” Ford said in an email to the Daily Report.

The media outlet also reported that the total verdict in the case before punitive damages was $24 million, along with $16,000 for funeral expenses and $22,500 for the value of the truck.

The Associated Press has additional coverage of the decision.

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