Court Orders Ford To Pay $1.7B For Fatal F-250 Rollover Crash

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The Blue Oval is planning to appeal the verdict.

Ford is expected to appeal a $1.7 billion verdict in a wrongful death case, which saw a Georgia couple, Melvin and Voncile Hill, killed after their 2002 Ford F-250 rolled over in April 2014. In a statement issued to Associated Press, Ford said it plans to fight the verdict. "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."

The plaintiffs in the case, children Kim and Adam Hill, are represented by lawyer James Butler Jr. and his firm, Butler Prather LLP. Legal representation for the plaintiffs reportedly submitted nearly 80 instances where the roofs of Ford trucks caved in after rolling over, injuring, or killing the occupants.

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Butler's co-counsel, Gerald Davidson, said damages awarded to the Hill family may warn other F-250 drivers. "More deaths and severe injuries are certain because millions of these trucks are on the road, said Davidson. "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," he added.

Ford, however, was quick to defend the vehicle in question. One lawyer for the Dearborn-based brand said allegations claiming the automaker put people in danger are "simply not the case." Another sought to dispel any notions that the automaker and its engineers acted "with a conscious indifference for the safety of the people who ride in their cars when they made these decisions about roof strength."

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Despite Ford's stance on the matter, Butler Jr. said the evidence spoke volumes. "I used to buy Ford trucks. I thought nobody would sell a truck with a roof this weak. The damn thing is useless in a wreck. You might as well drive a convertible."

This isn't the first time the Blue Oval has had to face legal challenges surrounding a serious crash. Several years ago, Travaris Smith was left paralyzed when the 1998 Ford Explorer he was traveling in rolled over. Smith, who was 24 at the time, was awarded a total of $151.8 million after a jury found the automaker failed to meet safety guidelines for the SUV. Moreover, the jury surmised that Ford attempted to cover up the Explorer's defective design.

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Whether Ford is successful with the appeal remains to be seen. Elsewhere, the brand has been battling disgruntled GT350 owners, who believe the cars aren't all they're cracked up to be. The class-action lawsuit alleges that Ford's misleading advertising has led to overheating issues after track use.

The company has also been dragged over the coals for false advertising numerous times. Previously, the popular Bronco off-roader was being marketed with unsubstantiated "best in class" claims. As a result, Ford had to change advertising materials.

Ford is yet to say when it plans to launch its appeal, but stay tuned for further developments in the case.

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Source Credits: Associated Press

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