Ford could be forced to pay $1.7 billion in damages linked to the design of its F-250 pickup truck that led to the deaths of two people.
James Butler, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, told The Wall Street Journal that a Georgia jury ruled on Friday August 19th that Ford should pay punitive damages for selling 5.2 million Super Duty trucks that he described as dangerously weak and were susceptible to crushing occupants if the truck rolled over.
Butler said the case was brought against Ford by the family of Melvin and Voncile Hill, who were driving a 2002 Ford F-250 Super Duty truck from their farm when the right front tire blew out and the truck rolled over, killing both.
"The Hill family is glad this part of the case is finally over," Butler told The Journal. "They intend to persevere and make Ford pay."
Gerald Davidson, another lawyer representing the Hill family, told Bloomberg the jury had previously awarded $24 million in compensatory damages to the Hills and allocated 70% of the blame to Ford.
The $1.7 billion punitive damages ruling is exceptionally high. Georgia law indicates that 75% of the proceeds of punitive damages must be paid to the state of Georgia, with the rest split between plaintiffs and lawyers.
A spokesperson for Ford told The Journal the automaker intended to appeal the ruling.