Ford Seeks New Trial for $1.7 Billion Super Duty Roof Failure Lawsuit

Ford's attorneys say the company was unable to properly defend itself claiming the roofs are safe despite the 58 lawsuits in 20 years, concerning 38 deaths.

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2005 Ford F-250
Image: Ford

Over the summer, a Georgia judge ordered Ford Motor Company to pay the largest sums in the state’s history, $1.7 billion. The suit is the culmination of nearly 20 years of lawsuits—at issue was the safety of the roof of the Super Duty pickup. A report from Wall Street Journal found that before the almost $2 billion verdict, Ford has settled dozens of other cases related to the roofs over the years, and multiple deaths, all while arguing that its trucks are safe.

The case concerns Super Duty pickups made between 1999 and 2016 alleging that in rollover accidents the roof can fail and collapse, causing serious injuries, including paralyzation or kill passengers.

WSJ found that the Blue Oval has been sued 58 times over a 17-year period. Of those 58 suits, 38 people died in accidents with Super Duty pickups. Others, WSJ says, were seriously injured including “people who were left paralyzed or quadriplegic.” Ford settled 43 of those 58 suits—but the details are unknown or confidential. One of Ford’s attorneys says the company has won just four of these suits. Even though the numbers are obviously against the automaker, he argues that conclusions shouldn’t be drawn from them.”I don’t think it’s fair to draw any conclusion on the cause of the accidents or the cause of the injuries based on allegations.”

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The latest $1.7 billion settlement comes after the 2014 deaths of an elderly couple, Melvin and Voncile Hill. A tire rupture on their 2002 F-250 and caused the truck to rollover. The Hills’ attorneys argued that the roof failed and crushed the couple. Ford argues that the accident was the couple’s fault and the tire ruptured was caused by “incorrect load-carrying capacity.” Although the attorney for the family said Ford tried to settle with them like many of the other cases regarding the safety of the cab roofs on the truck. But the couple’s son had heard about the other incidents and wanted the case to be brought to trial.

Now Ford is seeking a new trial, citing that it didn’t get to properly defend itself due to “sanctions” by the judge. Ford plans to argue that the roofs of its Super Duty trucks are as safe as the company designed them.