On Monday, federal jurors in Tulsa awarded 15 Million in compensatory damages to the family of an 18-year-old boy killed when his Ford Explorer Sport rolled over. The young man was killed in 2003 as his car flipped 1 1/2 times as he passed another car on a winding road. Tyler Moody, belted in his ’95 Explorer Sport, died because the defective vehicle had an inadequate roof-crush tolerance. His attorney described the rollover as a “relatively slow, easy roll.” Had the roof been better designed, it is unlikely that Tyler Moody would have died.
It is interesting to note that the award did not include punitive damages. Despite the conclusion that Ford had failed to make the roof strong enough to withstand this type of rollover, the panel did not find that Ford recklessly disregarded its duty to the public’s safety. Typically, when a jury determines that a vehicle was designed or manufactured in a way that put the driver (and public) at risk, punitive damages will be awarded to punish the automaker for its failure to produce a safe vehicle for the driving public.