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Ford Must Pay In Crash of Explorer

Mar 19, 2005 | Bloomberg

A Florida jury late Friday ordered Ford Motor Co. to pay $10.2 million to the family of a 26-year-old woman who was killed when her 2000 Ford Explorer flipped over after being forced off the road, a lawyer for the family said.

The state court jury in Jacksonville, Fla., issued the verdict, said a lawyer for the family of Claire Duncan. The family argued that the Explorer's roof was crushed during the rollover, causing the seat belt to spool out and her head to hit the roof. Ford said it will appeal.

The jury's verdict is the fourth against Ford in an Explorer rollover lawsuit. Ford faces more than two dozen trials this year over Explorer rollover lawsuits, many of which include roof crush claims, according to attorneys suing Ford.

Ford spokeswoman Kathleen Vokes said the company had not received word of the verdict and would appeal if the jury did rule in favor of the Duncan family.

During trial, Ford said the Explorer roof wasn't defective and a stronger roof wouldn't have protected Duncan.

"This was not a survivable accident," said Vokes. "Injury mechanics are not related to how much the roof is deformed in a rollover crash."

Ford has been sued several hundred times over Explorer rollovers in cases that don't involve tire failures.

Ford won the first 13 of these Explorer rollover cases before losing a $369-million jury verdict in San Diego in June. Ford lost a $5.3-million verdict in Ft. Myers, Fla., in August and a $31-million verdict in Texas on March 1.

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