Florida Jury Rules in Product Liability Case with a Ford Explorer Rollover Death

Florida Jury Rules in

The Colorado Department of Transportation published their findings regarding traffic fatalities for 2016. Overall, there were 607 traffic accident fatalities for the year. Of the fatal accidents, roughly 190, or 31% of these instances involved individuals operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These numbers indicate that CO has plenty of room for improvement in driving safety.

Parker v. Ford Motor Co., Action Gator Tire, & Cooper Tire

Katie Parker’s family filed a defective auto product and wrongful death suit in Seminole County, FL, following an accident where a rear tire “peeled away” on her 2000 Ford Explorer, causing a rollover leading to her death. The Explorer model had been the subject of numerous civil matters due to a controversial design flaw. The family brought a suit against Ford, the vehicle manufacturer; Cooper Tire, the tire manufacturer, and Action Gator, the tire retailer and installer. Both Cooper and Action reached settlements prior to the February 2017 trial, leaving Ford as the lone defendant. The plaintiffs explained how Ford engineers later acknowledged the model’s tendency to tip over. Ford initially had denied the design problem, blaming the standard Firestone tires as the cause. The defense explained Ms. Parker was not wearing a safety belt, and that the aging truck had 170,000 miles at the time. In March 2017, the jury absolved Ford of liability.

Florida Product Liability Standard

Florida law requires plaintiffs to prove:

  • The defendant produced a dangerous product
  • Their product was unreasonably dangerous or defective
  • The defective product caused the plaintiff’s injuries

Florida adheres to a strict standard of product liability, meaning plaintiffs must simply prove that the tort happened as a result of the dangerous condition, regardless of negligence or intent. Juries may consider comparative negligence, which reduces any award for damages proportionately according to the plaintiff’s degree of negligence in the accident.

History of Actions for 1990-2001 Vehicle Models

Governmental data showed approximately one in 2,700 Explorers manufactured before 2002 were involved in a fatality following a rollover accident. Ford initially attributed the problem to the standard Firestone tires, but after a recall, the problem persisted regardless of the tires. Tab Turner, an Arkansas attorney, was personally involved in settlements exceeding $1 billion with these vehicles. In 2002, Ford lowered the vehicle height, widened the wheel base, and added an independent rear suspension, to remedy the flaw.

Differentiating Florida & Colorado Law

Colorado and Florida’s standards for measuring damages in product liability matters are similar. Florida uses the comparative negligence standard, while Colorado’s model is known as comparative fault. Both reduce award amounts for damages according to the plaintiff’s degree of fault (negligence) in accidents. Florida’s law theoretically allows plaintiff recovery even if the plaintiff’s contribution is 99%, while Colorado’s threshold is 50%, beyond which the plaintiff is barred from recovery.

Have you or a family member been injured from a dangerous or defective consumer product? You may be entitled to financial retribution for your losses and emotional distress. Contact the personal injury attorneys in Denver at the Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal today at (303) 825-2223 to discuss your case.

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