Posts Tagged ‘tort reform’

Juries Out of Control Again

April 4, 2008

Only the big verdicts make the front page.  In today’s Birmingham News (April 4, 2008), there is a side article in Section C (Money) which discusses some Birmingham lawyers who handled a Ford case in Rockingham, North Carolina.  The story was basically a public relations story for Huie, Fernambucq & Stewart LLP and its attorneys, Alan Thomas and Gordon Sproule

The case involved products liability claims against Ford Motor Company for stability defects in a Ford Explorer Sport and defective seat belts in an F-250.  As a result of the alleged defects, William Lynthacum and Randy Shannon were killed.  The Plaintiffs sought $19 million in damages as a result of the defects.

The verdict?  According to the News, “[t]he 12-member jury found both vehicles safe and non-defective after two hours of deliberation.”  Why isn’t this on the front page?  If the jury had given $19 million, it would have made front page news.  Why is it news when it’s a big verdict, but it’s not news when it’s a defense verdict?  Which is more newsworthy:  (1) that a jury didn’t compensate the estates of two dead individuals, or (2) that a jury gave an award of $19 million against a large corporation?

Clearly, newspapers are big business, and therefore, they seem inclined to go with the tort reform flow.  This type of reporting shows how skewed the news is and the propaganda which is put out by tort reformers, big business, and insurance companies.  Consequently, when a jury renders a defense verdict such as this, it’s not put out to the masses, and tort reformers don’t come out to discuss the defense verdict.  I wonder what would have happened had it been reversed? 


Ford Wins

January 19, 2008

Ford won a products liability lawsuit in Henry County, Alabama on Tuesday, January 15, 2008.  The case arose from an accident which occurred in 2000 wherein a 28 year old woman, Pamela Jackson Davis, was thrown from the Ford Expedition.  According to the complaint, Ms. Jackson’s estate alleged that the seat belt and the glass were defective, and had they not been, Ms. Jackson would have survived the crash.  Ford, however, argued that she was not wearing her seat belt and that the glass was not defective.

Apparently, the jury agreed with Ford.  The attorney for Ford, Harlan Prater of the Birmingham law firm Lightfoot Franklin White, LLC, expressed sympathy for the family of Ms. Davis; however, he was glad to see the jury saw that the Ford Expedition was a good, safe vehicle.

This case is another example of juries getting it right.  When the jury rules in favor of the defendant, you don’t hear plaintiff attorneys complaining.  They know that their clients were given a fair shot at proving their case, and a jury of their peers made a decision.  When that happens, they live with the jury’s decision.  Why do businesses, corporations, insurance companies, etc. always say the jury got it wrong when they lose?  Some might call this being a sore loser.  I think, however, that these entities just don’t like it when twelve people rule that they did something careless, reckless, and wrong, and even worse, they cannot stand to lose money.  Follow the dollar.