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Supreme Court Rules That Ford Can Be Sued By Accident Victims In State Courts

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For some time, the Supreme Court has been mulling a pair of personal injury cases that sought to determine if a plaintiff injured or killed in an automotive accident can sue an automaker in a state court other than where the vehicle was manufactured or the automaker is physically located. And now, the Supreme Court has sided with two state courts and determined that they indeed can.

The cases, which both occurred in 2015, took place in different states. In Montana, the driver of a 1996 Ford Explorer was killed when the tread on one of the vehicle’s rear tires separated, which caused the driver to lose control. The other accident happened in Minnesota when the passenger in a 1994 Ford Crown Victoria suffered serious brain injuries when the vehicle rear-ended a snowplow and the passenger-side airbag failed to deploy.

Both the Montana and Minnesota Supreme Courts upheld the decision that each state has personal jurisdiction over the Michigan-based automaker. Thus, the U.S. Supreme Court consolidated the cases since they were related to the same issue.

“The connection between the plaintiffs’ claims and Ford’s activities in those States is close enough” to allow the lawsuits to proceed, Justice Elena Kagan wrote the court’s majority opinion. “By every means imaginable – among them, billboards, TV, and radio spots, print ads, and direct mail – Ford urges Montanans and Minnesotans to buy its vehicles. Ford cars are available for sale, whether new or used, throughout the States, at 36 dealerships in Montana and 84 in Minnesota. And apart from sales, Ford works hard to foster ongoing connections to its cars’ owners.”

Ford has argued that it shouldn’t have to face civil lawsuits in either state, as both vehicles were originally sold in other areas and then resold as used cars to the plaintiffs. The automaker attempted to get both cases dismissed on the basis of the “relatedness” requirement for specific personal jurisdiction, which is not met when the vehicle involved in an accident is not manufactured or sold in the state where the accident occurred.

We’ll have more on this case when it’s available, so be sure and subscribe to Ford Authority for the latest Ford lawsuit news and 24/7 Ford news coverage.

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Brett's lost track of all the Fords he's owned over the years and how much he's spent modifying them, but his current money pits include an S550 Mustang and 13th gen F-150.

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Comments

  1. Me

    “if a plaintiff injured or killed in an automotive accident can sue an automaker in a state court other than where the vehicle was manufactured”….The Crown Vic was made in Canada, and Explorer either Louisville or St Louis.

    Reply
  2. whypac

    While I agree with the Supreme Court that Ford (or any manufacturer of anything) should not be exempt from being sued by users of their products, the two cases you mentioned in this article…

    Someone driving a 1996 Ford has an accident in 2015 due to a tire blowout, dies, and the relatives try to sue Ford. This suit is asinine. Ford is not responsible for this. Case Dismissed. Also fine the lawyer $10,000 for filing the BS lawsuit.

    Someone driving a 1994 Ford rear-ends a snow plow in 2015 and the passenger suffers a head injury as a result of the accident. As the suit was filed, I suppose it needs to be argued and resolved. But seriously, 1994 was like the first year where passenger side air bags were required. The vehicle was 21 years old at the time of the accident. The passenger that died was riding with the at-fault driver. Where’s the personal responsibility? Why is there an expectation that a device manufactured and installed in a vehicle over two decades old still functions properly, especially said vehicle had multiple owners? Personally, I don’t see how Ford has any responsibility here either.

    If a new vehicle off the lot has a tire blow or the driver gets in an accident and the air bag doesn’t work, then you probably have a case.

    Reply
  3. F150 Dude

    What a ridiculous decision on both ends

    Reply
  4. GaryB

    These case examples are ridiculous. Guaranteed those tires on that 19 yr old car were not the stock tires, and im pretty sure Ford doesnt make their own tires. As for the snowplow wreck, how is it Ford’s fault the driver collided with the snowplow? The driver was most likely going too fast and following too closely or not paying attention.

    Reply
    1. 4drhtrd

      GaryB – agree 100%. As my dad used to tell me, “anyone can sue for any reason, real or imagined, and probably will.” These should both be thrown out of every court as frivolous. And this from our Supreme Court!

      Reply
  5. Gary.

    The Supreme Court doesn’t always make the right decisions.unfortunately they have the final say.

    Reply
  6. Lee Glidewell

    …and if guns kill people, spoons make people fat.

    Reply
  7. philip tilley

    If these cases were in the U.K., they would be laughed out of court, what do we pay insurance for, FoMoCo wasn’t driving these vehicle’s at the time of the accident, the people involved were, sue them!

    Reply

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