Millions of Americans rely on our pickup trucks every day. We use them for work, hauling, sport, and transportation. Pickup trucks have been used to build the backbone of this country.
It’s perfectly reasonable to expect a pickup truck to have a roof that’s strong enough to protect its occupants if a rollover occurs. That’s why it’s shocking to discover that for over 17 years, Ford Motor Company knowingly sold F-150 and F-250 pickup trucks with defective roofs.
Ford was aware that their trucks weren’t safe, but they refused to address the issue. To save money on production costs, Ford continued to deliberately sell hazardous trucks to the American people. As scores of unnecessary deaths and injuries resulted from their faulty truck roofs, Ford engaged in underhanded legal maneuvers to delay the legal process and avoid legal responsibility for their reckless behavior.
Eventually, the law caught up with Ford, and they were required to pay a record-breaking $1.7 billion in punitive damages after a married couple died as a result of Ford’s negligent actions. The law firm that held Ford accountable for their disgraceful actions was Butler Prather LLP.
The skilled litigators at Butler Prather LLP have been helping accident victims across the nation for over 35 years. Our personal injury attorneys have won hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for clients in over 30 states. We’ve won nine verdicts exceeding $100 million and over 60 verdicts and settlements of over $10 million.
Butler Prather LLP has won lawsuits against some of the most powerful interests in the country. If you or a loved one was needlessly injured, our Columbus auto accident lawyers will file a lawsuit to hold the wrongdoers accountable and help you get justice.
Call us at (706) 322-1990 to schedule a complimentary consultation today.
Like so many others before them, Melvin Hill and his wife, Voncile, died because Ford Motor Company values profits more than human life. The couple was killed in April 2014 when their F-250 rolled over, crushing them. In court, Ford admitted it never performed a physical roof strength test on the truck before releasing it on the market.
According to James Butler, Jr., attorney for the plaintiffs, the truck that the Hills were traveling in “might as well be a convertible” for all the protection it had to offer.
Ford was fully aware of the dangers posed by their faulty trucks. “Long before the Hills were killed, Ford was on notice from their own engineers, their own crash tests, and dozens of accidents that people were being killed, and it did nothing,” Butler said. There are still over 5.2 million unsafe Ford F-150 and F-250 Super Duty trucks on the road.
Over the course of the trial, lawyers from Butler Prather LLP demonstrated that Ford willfully and wantonly endangered the lives of truck occupants by selling vehicles with inherently weak roofs.
The following delineates Ford’s extreme lack of care regarding these trucks:
Ford F-150 and F-250 Super Duty pickup trucks have a high center of gravity, making them susceptible to rollovers. That’s why it’s crucial for these trucks to have sturdy roofs that won’t cave in.
Melvin and Voncile Hill would be alive today, and several other Ford owners would have avoided death and injury if the company had provided greater reinforcement when constructing the pillars that hold up their truck roofs.
People and corporations have a duty of care to prevent actions that will needlessly harm others. Although the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) doesn’t require trucks to have stronger roofs than cars, a truck weighs much more than a regular automobile.
Mr. Butler points out that “the NHTSA standard is irrelevant.” The lack of sufficient government standards doesn’t provide a legal defense for Ford’s negligence because it’s obvious that trucks require greater roof support than cars.
Although Melvin and Voncile passed away in April of 2014, Ford did everything they could to stall the legal process and delay justice. It wasn’t until August 22, 2022, that Ford was handed a verdict of $1.7 billion in punitive damages for their disgraceful behavior. In Georgia, punitive damages are only available when the defendant’s actions show “willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or the entire want of care.”
The legal process was delayed somewhat by COVID-19, and Ford stonewalled the legal process by intentionally disobeying the judge’s orders. Their attorneys intentionally introduced forbidden evidence into the first trial, resulting in a mistrial. Ford also petitioned the Georgia Supreme Court to review a sanctions order, but that petition was rejected by the court eight to zero.
Fortunately, justice was served in the second trial. Thanks to the jury’s ruling, Melvin and Voncile’s two children will receive $16.8 million in compensatory damages from Ford and $7.32 million in damages from Pep Boys. The auto shop was held 30 percent liable for the compensatory damages because they installed the wrong type of tires on the truck.
Georgia Law stipulates that 75 percent of punitive damages are collected by the state. That leaves an additional $425 million for the survivors of this horrible accident.
At Butler Prather LLP, our Columbus personal injury lawyers have helped thousands of people get the money they need to start rebuilding their lives after a senseless tragedy. If you or someone you loved was harmed by a defective vehicle, we’ll do everything we can to see that the wrongdoers pay for it.
Call (706) 322-1990 to learn more today.
Jury imposes $1.7 billion verdict against Ford for F-series pickup roof collapse that killed couple. Read More.