'Might as well drive a convertible': Family of couple killed when Ford truck’s roof collapsed get $1.7 BILLION

'Might as well drive a convertible': Family of couple killed when Ford truck’s roof collapsed get $1.7 BILLION
Ford sold 5.2 million “Super Duty” trucks with weak roofs that would crush people inside during rollovers, the jury determined (Plantiff's exhibit in court)

WOODSTOCK, GEORGIA: A jury in Georgia has delivered a $1.7 billion verdict against Ford Motor Company involving a pickup truck crash that took the lives of a Georgia couple, as per their lawyers. Ford Motor Company, meanwhile, is planning to appeal the verdict, a company representative said on Sunday, August 21.

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The prosecution in Gwinnett County, located northeast of Atlanta, gave the verdict in the ongoing civil case. Lawyer James Butler Jr. on Sunday, August 21 said that they had called for action against dangerously defective roofs on Ford pickup trucks.

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Melvin and Voncile Hill died in April 2014 in the rollover wreck of their 2002 Ford F-250. The couple, aged 74 and 62 respectively, were on their way to pick up a new tractor part to be used on their farm in Georgia when the accident occurred.

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According to the Daily Mail, the jury ruled that they would've survived the crash had the roof of their F-250 been designed properly. Instead, the roof crunched due to the impact of the roll and the couple died of injuries from the accident.

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The plaintiffs in the case are the couple's children, Kim and Adam Hill, who are in their fifties. Ford, in a statement to The Associated Press on Sunday, August 21 said, "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." 

Lawyer James said he was shocked by the evidence in the case. He said, "I used to buy Ford trucks," adding, "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."

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Meanwhile, the lawyers for the company defended the actions of Ford and its engineers. Defense lawyer William Withrow Jr said in his closing arguments, "that Ford and its engineers acted willfully and wantonly, with a conscious indifference for the safety of the people who ride in their cars when they made these decisions about roof strength," according to a court transcript.

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Another defense lawyer, Paul Malek, said that the allegation that Ford was irresponsible and made decisions that put customers at risk is "simply not the case." However, lawyers for the plaintiffs submitted evidence of nearly 80 similar rollover wrecks that involved truck roofs being crushed that injured or killed motorists.

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James co-counsel, Gerald Davidson, said in the statement, "more deaths and severe injuries are certain because millions of these trucks are on the road." He further added, "an award of punitive damages to hopefully warn people riding around in the millions of those trucks Ford sold was the reason the Hill family insisted on a verdict."

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