S.C. Jury Finds Ford Motor Negligent, Awards Plaintiff $18M

August 7, 2006

A Greenville County, South Carolina jury on Sunday awarded $15 million to a paralyzed woman in her lawsuit against Ford Motor Co. The jury also awarded $3 million to the estate of another woman killed in a 1999 wreck.

The jury did not award punitive damages, but found that Ford was negligent and breached its warranty by putting a defective speed-control system in a 1995 Ford Explorer that wrecked on Interstate 385 in December 1999, The Greenville News reported on its Web site Sunday.

The wreck killed Patricia Carter and made Sonya Watson a quadriplegic.

The lawsuits also had claimed Ford and TRW Vehicle Safety Systems had installed defective seat belts, but jurors rejected that argument.
In closing arguments Saturday, Ford attorney Elbert Dorn told the jurors the case is to be determined on facts and the law, not on emotions and sympathy.

Watson, who was 17 at the time of the crash, had to leave the court Saturday as her attorney, Wally Fayssoux described the wreck and her fight for life.

“Ford Motor Co. and TRW will never learn from their mistakes unless you make them,” Fayssoux told the jurors in his closing argument.
Ford and TRW claimed the passengers in the car weren’t wearing seat belts.

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