Ford Motor Co. was told by a jury to pay more than $1.7 billion over a 2014 rollover accident that killed a Georgia couple, a lawyer for the family said. Jurors delivered their verdict on punitive damages Friday following a 14-day trial in state court in Lawrenceville, Georgia, according to the attorney, Gerald Davidson.
A day earlier, the jury awarded the family of Melvin and Voncile Hill $24 million in compensatory damages and allocated 70 per cent of the blame to Ford, Davidson said. The verdict, among the largest in the US this year, couldn’t immediately be verified in court records. Ford didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment after regular business hours.
Davidson confirmed details of the case reported earlier by Courtroom View Network: The Hills were driving from their farm in Reynolds, Georgia, in a 2002 Ford F-250 pickup when a tire ruptured and the truck rolled over, crushing them.
The Hill family claimed that Ford knew the roofs of the F-250 pickups were too flimsy to protect riders in the event of a roll-over but failed to warn consumer and stuck to the defective roof design until 2016.
“We are very, very happy for the Hill family and very happy for the advancement of automobile safety,” Davidson said. In Georgia, 75 per cent of proceeds from punitive damage verdicts go to the state. The rest is split between the plaintiffs and the lawyers. Large punitive damage awards are often scaled back by judges or appeals courts when they are found to be disproportionate to compensatory damages.