United States: Ford ordered to pay 1.7 billion dollars after the death of a couple

The justice estimated that a manufacturing defect of a pick-up had caused the death of two people during an accident.

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US automaker Ford was ordered to pay $1.7 billion in damages for a manufacturing defect in one of its models that led to the death of a couple in Georgia in 2014.

While it is not uncommon to see damages in excess of one million dollars in traffic accident cases, the amount awarded in this case is one of the highest ever seen.

At the end of this judgment, rendered on Friday August 19 by a popular jury in Gwinnett County and reported by several American press organs, Ford announced Sunday, to the Wall Street Journal, of its intention to appeal this decision. “which is not supported by evidence”, according to the manufacturer.

Asked by AFP, Ford did not respond immediately.

A design flaw

In 2014, Melvin and Voncile Hill’s F-250 Super Duty pickup rolled over after suffering a flat tire while driving on a highway near Americus, Georgia. The roof of the overturned vehicle had caved in, crushing the couple in the cabin.

Following this accident, the couple’s two children took legal action and accused Ford of a design flaw in this model which, according to documents cited by the American media, was involved in dozens of other similar accidents. .

During the trial, which lasted three weeks, Ford’s lawyers cited several design and safety studies that they said showed the roof was strong enough to withstand such an impact.

But the jury nevertheless retained the responsibility of the firm of Dearborn (Michigan) which, according to documents in the file, manufactured approximately 5.2 million copies of this model, from 1999 to 2016, before the roof is reinforced, from 2017.

A punitive fine

The envelope of 1.7 billion dollars corresponds to so-called punitive damages, which go beyond the prejudice of the victim or victims and aims to sanction the behavior of the author.

They are often proportionate according to the financial capabilities of the person or entity concerned.

On Thursday, the same jury condemned, separately, Ford and the Pep Boys car maintenance chain (for having installed the wrong set of tires) to pay 24 million in damages to the children of the Hill couple, in compensation for their damage.

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