Hayward vs Ford Motor Company

Multi-Million Verdict Awarded in Fatal Ford Explorer Rollover

First Ford Roll-Over Plaintiffs’ Verdict in South Carolina History Totals $3.9 Million

GEORGETOWN, S.C., April 24, 2006 – A team of several nationally known litigators today announced that a second jury, while not awarding punitive damages, has confirmed the plaintiffs a verdict of more than $3.9 million dollars against Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) as the result of a fatal 2000 Ford Explorer rollover accident. Co-counsel and automotive defect attorneys J. Edward Bell, III of the Bell Legal Group LLC, Georgetown, S.C., and Kevin Dean of Motley-Rice LLC, Mt. Pleasant, S.C., participated together in this very complex trial, which is believed to be the first verdict of its kind in South Carolina. Vanessa Richardson of the Bell Legal Group LLC and John O’Leary of Columbia, South Carolina also assisted in the trial of the case.

The jury verdict was awarded in the case of Hayward vs. Ford, filed and tried in United States District Court in Charleston, South Carolina. The case was the result of an April 2, 2000 automobile accident that occurred on Interstate 95, near Ridgeland, South Carolina. Erika Hayward and three friends drove the 2000 Ford Explorer XLT during a weekend trip. Upon their return home, the Ford Explorer rolled over causing the ejection of three occupants. Erika Hayward was killed as a result of the ejection and the other passengers suffered serious and multiple injuries.

The 2000 Ford Explorer was found defective despite Ford’s repeated assertion to the contrary. “The Ford Explorer was exposed to have defects of stability and handing, roof crush and glass/glazing. The Explorer should not roll over on flat/dry pavement, the Explorer roof does not perform adequately in rollover accidents and as disclosed during trial in an internal document, the Ford Motor Company had decided against using windshield style laminated glass to help prevent occupants from being ejected,” said plaintiff’s attorney Mr. J. Edward Bell.

The Explorer’s lack of stability was at the heart of the Plaintiffs’ case. This is the first trial in which it was disclosed that Ford allowed replacement tires (for factory issued defective Firestone tires) to be sold to customers that were just as dangerous in contributing to rollovers. Internal documents found by the plaintiff’s attorneys proved Ford’s knowledge of the faulty replacements. The jury found that Ford violated its own internal safety standard, which states, “to develop and design a vehicle that will remain stable under all operational conditions including accident avoidance maneuvers.”

“Millions of Americans are on the road today driving Explorers with tires that are dangerous. Ford was well aware of the safety problems with the Explorer and did nothing but try to hide the facts. Ford replaced the faulty Firestone tires with tires that were not suited for the unstable Explorer and never told the public that the replacement tires contributed to the Explorer having such a high rollover rate. People are driving around on tires that contribute to rollover and don’t know it, Ford has not been honest about it and don’t seem to care” said attorney Kevin Dean.

According to statistics compiled by the Federal Government, someone dies in a Ford Explorer every 3 and ½ days. That’s an extraordinary fatality statistic and Ford continues to tell the public that the Explorer is a safe vehicle to allow Americans to drive.  “It really is shameful and the United States Congress should investigate this deadly matter immediately,” said plaintiff’s attorney J. Edward Bell.

For more information about this verdict, contact the Law Offices of J. Edward Bell at 877-453-5055 or visit www.belllegalgroup.com.

About the Bell Legal Group LLC. The attorneys and staff of the Bell Legal Group focus on select and challenging areas of law and bring 25 years litigation experience. To successfully litigate the large scale cases for which the Bell Legal Group has become known for, the firm offers its own unique reserve of capital, resources and state of the art technology. Leaving no stone unturned while pursuing justice, the firm has built its reputation concentrating in the areas of automotive defect, medical malpractice, nursing home litigation, personal injury litigation and police misconduct cases. For more information on the Bell Legal Group LLC call 877-453-5055 or visit www.belllegalgroup.com.

Media Contact Rachel Ridgeway
Bell Legal Group