Ford Authority

Ford Roof Strength Lawsuit Not Expected To Get New Trial

Back in August, Ford was ordered to pay $1.7 billion in punitive damages over an allegation that the roofs present on 1999-2016 Ford Super Duty models aren’t strong enough to hold up in the event of a rollover crash. The court’s decision stemmed from a 2014 wrongful death lawsuit in which the automaker ultimately had to dish out millions to surviving family members. Since then, a class-action lawsuit was filed over this Ford roof strength lawsuit, though The Blue Oval recently asked for a new trial on the basis that it was unfairly precluded from defending against claims that its trucks were defective, as Ford Authority reported yesterday. Now, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that this Ford roof strength lawsuit is not expected to be granted a new trial.

Ford argued that it has evidence that the F-250 involved in the prior incident was safe and that its roof structure is actually stronger than many of its peers, noting that the judge at the time barred it from providing that evidence and effectively defending itself. Additionally, the automaker claims that it wasn’t able to present evidence that other factors could have contributed to the fatalities, including the fact that the occupants weren’t wearing their seat belts properly and their pickup was using tires with incorrect load ratings, which allegedly resulted in a tire rupturing and causing the accident.

According to legal experts, Ford faces a difficult task as it tries to get the court to grant it a new trial, though if that doesn’t happen, the automaker still reserves the right to file an appeal over the existing verdict. Additionally, experts note that The Blue Oval has a far better chance of reducing the $1.7 billion dollars it was ordered to pay out.

That lofty sum – the largest amount of punitive damages awarded in Georgia’s history – represents a true break from the norm in this sort of case, as Nora Freeman Engstrom, law professor at Stanford University, pointed out. “It’s a headline-grabbing sum, but it will never come to pass,” Engstrom said. She also noted that punitive damages should be no more than nine times as high as the compensatory damages, which in this case totaled $24 million.

We’ll have more on this case very soon, so be sure and subscribe to Ford Authority for the latest Ford lawsuit news, Ford Super Duty news, and non-stop Ford news coverage.

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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  1. Robert.Walter

    24M$ in punitive isn’t enough to give an OEM pause against making similar money saving decisions in the future.

    1. Drew Ford Retiree

      Robert… Are you an expert at roof strength technology and costs? I highly suspect not. The reality is the technology did not exist at the time PN131 was designed. It is a heavy truck, and heavier gage sheet metal could not be pressed. Advanced research showed the need for new, “boutique” steels (boron), as well as new designs for brackets/hinges when mating roof rails and pillars. These things take time to develop and assure supply capacity.

      More importantly, the reality is that roof crush is NOT the cause of injury or death. As a vehicle rolls, an unbelted occupant (or loosely belted occupant) will dive (soar?) into the roof BEFORE the roof collapses. It is this head to roof impact that causes injuries. Fact. If you don’t believe it, read the expert filings the were submitted to NHTSA when the agency was evaluating updates to FMVSS 216.


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