Jury verdict set aside as Ford caught in lie
On October 28, 2003, Peggy Stimpson and her husband, Ralph, had gotten into their 1991 Ford Aerostar van which was backed into their carport. When Ralph put the car into gear, it suddenly accelerated (burning rubber) and drove forward down their driveway, across the street, and into a utility pole almost 100 feet away. Peggy was ejected from the van and sustained a broken neck. She was left permanently paralyzed from the chest down.
Peggy’s case was heard February of 2011. After several weeks of both Peggy’s attorneys and Ford’s attorneys making their case, a jury came back with a verdict in favor of Ford. Peggy’s attorneys appealed to the Fifth Judicial Circuit in Sumter County, Florida and as of last week the verdict was set aside.
Senior Judge William T. Swigert based his decision on the automaker deceptively withholding information from the Court as well as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, such as years of testing which showed that electromagnetic interference was not only a frequent but a root cause of unintended acceleration in Ford vehicles. (All the while claiming that it knew of no other cause of unintended acceleration than driver error.)
Judge Swigert commented, “The proofs introduced at trial include various patents owned by Ford showing that electronic malfunctions in the cruise system can cause sudden, unintended acceleration, in addition to reports from Ford’s engineers, including SIRs and CQIS reports, diagnosing sudden acceleration as a problem with the cruise control system. Ford’s Ishikawa engineering diagram likewise shows that EMI is a cause of sudden unintended acceleration.”
I’m sure there will be more fallout given this decision. Check back with us for more information as it develops.