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Product Liability Lawsuits Can Test Patience and Resolve


BY: A Staff Writer
Tenacity and persistence are two qualities that can make or break a personal injury attorney or firm. Because, without these qualities it is impossible to win cases or more importantly, to get justice for those people who have been seriously injured or killed because of someone else’s negligence.

Take for example the San Francisco product liability case against Ford Motor Co. The case was brought by parents of Walter White, a 3-year-old boy who died 13 years ago because the parking brake on his father’s Ford truck failed, rolling down the hill and running him over. According to an article by the Associated Press, the case is still not over although a jury in a second retrial had already awarded $52 million to the deceased child’s parents. A judge threw out that award last week agreeing with Ford’s lawyers that mistakes were made during the last trial in jury instructions.

The Whites sued both Orscheln Company, the maker of the brakes and Ford for not warning consumers in spite of knowing that the brakes would allow the truck to roll. Ford issued a recall in connection with the defective brakes two months after little Walter died.
In the first trial in 1998, Ford was found negligent and the jury awarded the parents $2.3 million in compensatory damages and $150.8 million in punitive damages, meant to punish Ford. But that didn’t hold on appeal and the district court reduced punitive damages to $69.2 million finding it “excessive.” The case was sent to a new trial because both parties appealed that decision.

A second jury in 2004 awarded the Whites $52 million. This time Ford appealed saying the jury was not given proper instructions. Now, the case will go to another jury to set punitive damages.

This is not the first time Ford has been in this position and it won’t be the last. The industry giant has faced and is continuing to face product liability lawsuits for making poor quality vehicles that cause serious injuries to their occupants – from its trucks to its sport utility vehicles such as the Explorer, Excursion and Expedition. It’s never been easy for plaintiffs or their attorneys. Ford’s high-powered legal teams file appeal after appeal making it extremely challenging for these families to recover the damages and compensation they rightfully deserve.

What Ford hopes is that these pesky plaintiffs and attorneys will become discouraged and go away. But an accomplished personal injury attorney will draw motivation and strength from these challenges and roadblocks. As for Ford, these lawsuits and complaints have been their only incentive to attempt to improve the quality of their products. And that’s why it’s vital for consumers and their attorneys to never, ever give up although justice often times is delayed.

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