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Ford's second-generation Explorer has just cost the company $131 million. Despite the popularity of the seminal SUV, it's had more than its fair share of legal scrapes regarding its rollover resistance. And while the Explorer/Firestone tire kerfuffle has long since exited the headlines, the Blue Oval continues to get its pocketbook dinged by the SUV. According to Autoblog sister site AOL Autos, this week, a jury in Jackson, Mississippi was to decide on possible punitive damages in the lawsuit over the death of Brian Cole, a promising baseball player headed for the New York Mets. Ford settled with the family over the matter of the 2001 rollover accident after a jury awarded $131 million in damages. Punitive damages were the next decision the jury was to consider before Ford settled.

Ford apparently disagrees with the blame placed on its vehicle, saying that the 22-year-old Cole was speeding and not wearing a seatbelt. Cole died from injuries sustained after being ejected from his Explorer during a rollover accident on a Florida highway. His cousin, Ryan Cole, survived the accident, which Ford attributes to the use of a seatbelt and the Explorer's crash performance. While a settlement can be taken as a de facto acknowledgement of the Cole family's claims that the Explorer is inherently unstable and its safety belts can fail in rollovers, the automaker maintains that it didn't receive a fair trial, and settled to bring closure to the issue.

[Source: AOL Autos]


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  • 35 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      What a frivolous lawsuit this was. Shame on the Cole family for suing when it was their family member who was at fault and shame on the lawyer for taking the case. I've owned a 1993 Explorer and loved it. I felt very safe in it. My daughter was broadsided by a Pontiac Gran Prix that ran a red light and she and her passenger received no injuries.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Awesome, with that money they can buy another son. Well, maybe not. A better idea would be to buy a shotgun and blow their heads off. I don't claim to be a nice person, so I'll just go on record that I'm pulling for a Christmas morning house fire to take out the whole family.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Over a lifetime, a person with a college degree will earn about $2 million dollars. Throw that in plus emotional damage, say 2x or 3x as much and you have about $6 million.

      $131 million is just outright greed.

      We need serious tort reform in this country.

      Funny how in Obama's zeal to reform wall street and health care he refuses to touch this and is in bed with the lawyers.

        • 4 Years Ago
        No kidding, they must think this kid was going to be the next A Rod. It's just plain greedy.

        You wouldn't believe how many hoops businesses have to jump through to avoid being sued, it's a joke. Same with doctors and anyone who manufactures anything that could possibly hurt someone. It's a wonder there are still American ladder companies out there considering how many things an idiot can do with a ladder.

        As far as tort reform it's not happening on a national scale, at least not anytime soon. The Democrats can accuse Republicans of being pawns of big business all they want but at the end of the day big business actually contributes to the economy.
      • 4 Years Ago
      In my opinion, no seatbelt=no money.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I own a ford explorer and its been hit by various Honda, Toyota and other small cars with dumb drivers living in the Washington DC area. I wanted to get rid of it because it did use some gas. To be totally honest this explorer has really saved me many times no joke. So I am keeing it. I fiigured it has saved me so much hassle and money not buing a new car.

      In fact I saw a prius on the beltway fly into a explorer and get totally destroyed.

      My explorer has lasted in over 4 accidents that were not my fault and still going so I actually thank FORD for making a car that's possibly saved my life and lasted where the other cars are headed for the junk yard.

      I really think the ford explorer was extremely well built. Anyone suing ford over STUPID driving without a seat belt is really just looking to make money off a good company.

      Makes me sick to see people taking advantage of ford.
        • 4 Years Ago
        How damaged a car gets in an accident isn't a measure of how safe or not safe it is.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I've had 4 Explorer/Mountaineers since 2000 (company cars). I've logged many miles on them over the years and I never came close to rolling one. I don't drive like a grandma but I know you can't drive a high profile vehicle like a Miata.

      I agree that if you are not following the safety rules stated in the vehicle and it's manual, you can't sue for product liability. It's just unbelieveable that these type lawsuits are filed and won in our justice system.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This article doesn't state the Ford paid $131 million, it states that it settled a $131 million lawsuit out of court. It was probably settled for much less due to the threat of appeals and delayed payment.

      From the original article "the settlement amount and terms were confidential"
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is kinda like a kid that went to my high school. He was 16 with temps driving his friends s10 going over 70 on a 35mph road, flipped the truck into a pond in someones front yard and drown. They made such a big deal out of it that it was a tragedy. He did it to himself, i'm just glad that he didnt hurt the people living in the house, or hit another car. I guess where i'm going with this is that people doing stupid things deserve whats coming to them.
      • 4 Years Ago
      So this guy died because he was driving like a jackass and the family is pissed he's gone, and also, coz their out money from his baseball career. Cant believe they actually won this BS case.
      • 4 Years Ago
      There needs to be regulation that states if you aren't strapped in, that you are solely responsible for your injuries, regardless who is at fault for the cause of the accident or injury.

      Motorcyclists should come under the same regulation. If a biker chooses to accept the consequences of not wearing a hemet or safety gear (leathers, boots...), then they need to accept responsibility for injuries even if they are not the direct cause of the incident resulting in injury.

      A complete disregard for safety means you are alright with serious injury or death. So be it.
      • 4 Years Ago
      BS, Ford has a team of litigators and an almost bottomless wallet to litigate any claim.

      They caved because the facts were such that they knew they could never win.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It's never been really proven. There have been tests done to show that the rollovers supposedly caused by blowouts (talking about the Firestone debacle) and such were because of driver error.

        The Explorer was as safe as any other SUV on the road at the time. The only reason Ford got any crap for it was because of the number of SUVs they sold compared to the competition.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Despite Ford's quick recovery, they are still have $27.3 billion in debt. They "caved" because it's been proven that the Explorer was indeed rollover prone. Despite the victim's lack of regard for safety, there is a chance that he may have still died if he was wearing a seatbelt due to a fault in the vehicles design. It's possible that would be enough for a jury to find for the plaintiff. That's a big gamble.
      • 4 Years Ago
      So it's a proven fact that ford explorers are more liable to rollovers? What are they going to do about the tens of thousands of explorers on our roads today? Recall each and every one of them? Or payout millions of $'s when ever a speeding idiot, not wearing a seatbelt flips one?
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