Ford Hit With $1.7 Billion Verdict, Must Pay Siblings For Crash That Killed Parents

Ford Hit With $1.7 Billion Verdict, Must Pay Siblings For Crash That Killed Parents

Ford Motor Company has been hit with a $1.7 billion verdict over a pickup truck crash that killed two parents.

Two Georgia siblings were suing Ford in Gwinnett County, slightly northeast of Atlanta after their parents, Melvin and Voncile Hill, aged 72 and 64, were killed in April, 2014 when their 2002 Ford F-250 blew a tire and rolled over. The roof of the pickup truck buckled and crunched under the force of the roll, and the couple later died from their injuries.

The jury ruled that the couple, who were grandparents at the time, would have survived the wreck if the roof of the pickup truck had not had a design flaw that made it crunch when the car rolled over.

Gruesome photos from the scene of the crash show the pickup truck with its flattened roof. The doors, windows, and side view mirrors also appear to be severely damaged.

The couple’s adult children, Kim and Adam Hill, who are both in their fifties, sued Ford several years later in 2018 in a wrongful death case. They claimed that the Ford F-250 roof was “dangerously defective” and caused the deaths of their parents.

The siblings also sued Pep Boys, the auto shop that fitted the tires on the truck four years prior to the deadly wreck.

Initially, the younger Hills were awarded $24 million in compensatory damages. Of that, Ford is liable for 70% or $16.8 million, and Pep Boys is liable for 30% or $7.2 million.

Last week, they were awarded the $1.7 billion in punitive damages, but they will only be able to claim $425 million of that cash. The state will receive the other 75% in accordance with Georgia law.

Altogether, the Hill family is slated to receive $450 million from Ford over the tragedy.

One of the family’s lawyer’s said the couple might as well have been driving a convertible, the roof was so “useless.”

“I used to buy Ford trucks,” the family’s attorney, James Butler Jr., said on Sunday. “I thought nobody would sell a truck with a roof this weak. The damn thing is useless in a wreck. You might as well drive a convertible.”

“More deaths and severe injuries are certain because millions of these trucks are on the road,” said another of the family’s attorneys, Gerald Davidson.

In court filings, the family’s legal team cited 79 other rollover crashes that they said involved a similar flaw in the roof.

Ford plans to appeal the expensive verdict.

“While our sympathies go out to the Hill family, we do not believe the verdict is supported by the evidence, and we plan to appeal,” Ford said in a statement on Sunday.

The legacy American car company’s stock has sunk about 27% this year, and the company is currently worth about $60 billion.

Meanwhile, Ford is slashing about 3,000 jobs, most of which are in North America. Like many companies, Ford is attempting to cut costs as inflation stays around a 40-year high.