Ford Pays $27 Million For Faulty Seat Design In Escort Accident.

Saw this article in our local paper today, The Daily Southtown. March 17, 2005
Ford, Mazda owe $27 Million for faulty seat design that contributed to
the death of a South Holland ( IL. ) man.
by Chris Hack staff writer
A Cook County jury has awarded $27 million to the family of a South Holland man killed in a violent rear end collision five years ago. Jurors deliberated about three hours before handing up the judgement against Ford Motor Company and Mazda Motor Company, the two companies that designed and built the 1996 Ford Escort LX that James Mikolajczyk was driving in February 2000.
The lawsuit blamed the Escorts " Yielding" front seat design as a cause of death Mikolajaczyk's death. The Escort was stopped at red light when it was rear ended by a Cadillac that was later determined to be doing 60 mph.
According to the plaintiff's attorney Bruce Pfaff, the force of the impact bent the driver's seat backward about 60 degrees, allowing Mikolajczyk to slide out from under his seat belt and suffer a fatal injury when he slammed head first into the rear portion of the passenger compartment.
Mikolajczyk's 10 year old daughter, who was sitting in the back seat of the Escort survived the crash because of the rigidity of that seat, Pfaff said.
Ford engineers have long maintained that front seats were designed to bend backward in crashes in order to minimize neck injuries and whiplash in the low speed rear end crashes that are much more common than high speed one that left Mikolajczyk dead.
Attorneys for the automakers noted during the trial the Escorts front seat met government safety standards. But Pfaff said test done on other cars, including those made by BMW and Mercedes Benz have shown that more rigid front seats are equally safe in low speed crashes and provide superior protection in high speed rear end collisions.
ALthough Ford has strengthened the front seats in a few of its models, Pfaff said the yielding seat design still is widely used by the carmaker.
SIx years ago Paff's firm won a $14 million judgement in a similar lawsuit on behalf of a woman killed in a Ford Explorer in Hammond, Indiana.
We would love it if Ford Motor Co would wake up ad change their seats, Pfaff said Wednesday.
The deceased worked as a physicians assistant at the University Of Chicago Hospital he never regained consciousness after the accident and died three days later. He was 46.
The driver of the Cadillac, William Timberlake of Morgan Park, was convicted of drunk driving and reckless homicide and sentenced to six years in prison. Timberlake, 58 is expected to be paroled in September.
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On Thu, 17 Mar 2005 13:58:13 -0600, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (Harry Face) wrote:

Jury award =/= total amount of settlement.
I recall a Jury in some southern state awarding $500 Billion to someone at one point (or some other insane amount) totally out of line with ability to pay. What finally gets paid after the appeals are run are often much more reasonable.
My take is anyone that gets in an Escort has already waived any protection they might have had.
Be interesting to see what the final payment is.
Time to sell my Olds & buy a DHS ;-)
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This is more of those damn liberals influence here. Their philosophu of not taking responsibility for anything, adn carrying it over to putting the blame anywhere except where it belongs. There is no blame or fault to be found of FoMoCo unless FoMoCo stated that a driver in an Escort would have a 100% change of surviving being rear-ended by a Cadillac (most likely 2 tons or more) at 60 MPH. Shit happens, that's life. This $27 million should be fined to the driver of the Cadillac, but of course some DUI isn't going to have that kind of money so the liberal ass holes go and sue FoMoCo and some bassackward moronic jury awards them the money. It's insane!
Cory

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Too true.
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Actually a jury award is not the final determination. In any event those that buy new Fords will pay the cost in the end, what ever it ends up to be Jury have a tendency to not think that far ahead. Everything we buy today in this country is much more costly than it need be so that the shark lawyers can make millions, as did John Edwards with his phony unproved theory in medical malpractice litigation.
mike hunt
Scott wrote:

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I couldn't agree enough. Same reason why health care is so expensive. The Jury awards some insane amount to a, usuallly phony, malpractice victim. The doc turns to an insuarance company to protect him. The insurance company charges an insane premium to cover the doc. And the doc inturn charges the patient an insane amount. The patient in-turn turns to an insurance company to cover himself.
So, the moral of the story. When the town is split by the Jury by awarding ridiculous compensations, the insurance companies and lawyers make merry.
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I wonder why the lawyers chose to sue Ford rather than the owner of the Cadillac? LOL
mike hunt
Cory Dunkle wrote:

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not
a
tons
some
No, it's not. This is a pretty cut and dried case. Ford uses thinner steel in the front seats to save money. Then they manufacture an excuse like "our weaker front seats reduce whiplash in low-speed accidents" even though this is not bourne out by testing. And it is also not an excuse accepted by other automakers either, as they don't do the same things with their seats.
I got news for you. Juries are getting tired of these kinds of shenanigans and your going to see more of these punative damages. Automakers and other product makers USED to know years ago that government minumims were guidelines only and a decent manufacturer was supposed to make their products safer than government minimums. Then they all decided to cut costs and build to the government minimums and pretend these were adequate.
Ted
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have
be
to
steel
weaker
not
shenanigans
only
No one made that man who died buy a Ford Escort. He could have chosen any other car in the world. There are plenty of model to choose from. Hell, technically he didn't even have to drive. Every time you get in a car you are accepting the risk that you may be killed or injured. Accidents happen, there are a lot of dumb people out there with a me first f**k you attitude which is very dangerous. It's not Ford's fault this man died. It is the fault of the selfish a-hole who rear-ended him. Ford builds a car. The Escort is an economy car, it is about as econo-box as you can get (except perhaps a Geo Metro). No one in their right mind purchases a car like that because they expect it to keep them safe when being rear-ended at 60 MPH by a vehicle that weighs at least twice as much.
You have the same piss-poor liberal attitude of shifting the blame anywhere from where it belongs. You also have the same liberal problem of trying to 'fix' problems anywhere but at the source. You simply try to fix the symptoms or affects of a problem, not the problem itself. That's alright, most liberals do that, they are dumb as bricks and don't know any better. Much of it comes from growing up with liberal parents and relatives.
Cory
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of
the
be
going
product
government
happen,
by
anywhere
Aw, I would say it's more the trial lawyers. Sue anybody with deep pockets. Ford has a lot more money than the Caddy driver. Next they start going after Harley (and other motorcycle makers) for building a vehicle that is unsafe at any speed.
Local lawyer tried to sue GM for making an unsafe truck. The driver lost control and hit a pole. The first witness testified that the driver was totally drunk and it went downhill from there on. The judge fined the lawyer.
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