$8.7 Million Verdict Against Ford Affirmed

$8.7 Million Verdict Against Ford Affirmed

A federal appeals court affirmed an $8.7 million verdict against Ford Motor Company in a design defect case involving a man left paralyzed after an accident.

Forty-six-year-old U.S. Army major Barry Muth was in the front passenger seat when the driver drove the car into a concrete divider. The car went over the divider, landing on its roof in the opposite lane. As a result of the accident, Muth is now a paraplegic.

Muth claimed that a design defect in the vehicle’s roof caused it to hit his head as it was crushed 12 inches into the interior. However, Ford argued that a replacement windshield decreased the roof’s strength.

According to expert witnesses, Ford could have spent less than $30 per vehicle on safety improvements that would have significantly strengthened the roof structure, which would have prevented such massive roof deformity and lowered the risk of serious injuries.

Expert witnesses also testified that Ford resisted urges from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to strengthen their vehicle roofs since the early 1970s.

The court said that Ford’s argument regarding the windshield’s role in the accident “scant at best” and ultimately beside the point. The jury ruled in favor of Muth – a decision which the court affirmed.

Muth, his wife, and their three children will be receiving the full jury-awarded $8.7 million, including damages for disfigurement and impairment, physical pain, lost retirement benefits, and future medical expenses.

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