A jury in Gerogia has returned a $1.7 billion verdict against Ford Motor Co involving a pickup truck crash that claimed the lives of a couple, the AP reported on Sunday.
James Butler Jr., lawyer for the Georgia couple Melvin and Voncile Hill who were killed in April 2014 in the rollover wreck of their 2002 Ford F-250, said on Sunday that jurors in Gwinnett County, northeast of Atlanta, returned the verdict late last week, AP reported.
The couple’s children, Kim and Adam Hill, were the plaintiffs in the yearslong wrongful death case, involving what their lawyers called dangerously defective roofs on Ford pickup trucks.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs had submitted evidence of nearly 80 similar rollover wrecks that involved truck roofs being crushed that injured or killed motorists, Butler’s law firm, Butler Prather LLP, said in a statement to the news agency.
“An award of punitive damages to hopefully warn people riding around in the millions of those trucks Ford sold was the reason the Hill family insisted on a verdict,” AP reported, quoting Butler.
Ford did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on Sunday.
According to closing arguments made in court by defense lawyer William Withrow Jr., the automaker defended itself from accusations “that Ford and its engineers acted willfully and wantonly, with a conscious indifference for the safety of the people who ride in their cars when they made these decisions about roof strength,” AP said.
Paul Manke, another defense lawyer, said that the allegation that Ford was irresponsible and willfully made decisions that put customers at risk is “simply not the case,” AP reported.
(Reporting by Juby Babu in Bengaluru; editing by Diane Craft)