Home » category » court cases

STIMPSON v FORD MOTOR COMPANY

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE FIFTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT IN AND FOR SUMTER COUNTY, FLORIDA

CASE NO. 2004-CA-000013

PEGGY T. STIMPSON and RALPH M. STIMPSON,

Plaintiffs,

VS.

FORD MOTOR COMPANY, et al,

Defendants.

ORDER ON PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION FOR RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT, PARTIAL FINAL JUDGMENT IN FAVOR OF PLAINTIFFS ON LIABILITY, AND ORDER CONDITIONALLY GRANTING NEW TRIAL THIS MATTER having come before the Court upon Plaintiffs’ Motion for Relief from Judgment and Motion for New Trial. Having reviewed the motion, the submissions of the parties and the file, having heard testimony and exhibits introduced in evidence, and based upon the accompanying Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, it is hereby: ORDERED AND ADJUDGED as follows:

1. The Court grants Plaintiffs’ Motion for Relief from Judgment.

2. Ford’s answer, including its affirmative defenses, is hereby stricken and judgment on liability is entered in favor of Plaintiffs.

3. A second trial will take place to assess the amount of compensatory damages; whether punitive damages are appropriate; and if so, the amount of such punitive damages.

4. The Court will also entertain a motion for the assessment of costs in favor of Plaintiffs at the appropriate time.

5. The Court conditionally grants Plaintiffs’ Motion for New Trial. This order becomes effective only if the order granting relief from judgment is reversed on appeal. Frazier v. Seaboard System Railroad, Inc., 508 So. 2d 345, 346 (1987).

DONE, ORDERED AND ADJUDGED on this the, 20 day of July, 2011

Download Full Court Case

MANIGAULT v FORD MOTOR COMPANY

MANIGAULT ET AL., APPELLANTS, v. FORD MOTOR COMPANY, APPELLEE, ET AL.
[Cite as Manigault v. Ford Motor Co., 96 Ohio St.3d 431, 2002-Ohio-5057.]

Evidence — Witnesses — New trial is the appropriate remedy when an expert witness’s testimony accompanying a videotape without audio is allegedly contradicted by a copy of the videotape with audio, even when the videotape with audio is not discovered until after the trial has been completed.
(Nos. 2000-2299 and 2001-0203 — Submitted January 29, 2002 — Decided October 9, 2002.)

APPEAL from the Court of Appeals for Cuyahoga County, No. 73147.
__________________
PFEIFER, J.

{¶1} Plaintiff-appellant, Virginia Manigault, individually and as guardian of her husband, Leon Manigault, filed a products liability suit against defendant-appellee, Ford Motor Company in 1995. The suit alleged that a defect in the Manigaults’ 1987 Ford LTD Crown Victoria caused the car to suddenly and unexpectedly accelerate. Manigault presented evidence that when Mr. Manigault turned the key in the ignition as the car was parked in his garage facing the street, the car suddenly shifted into gear and sped down the driveway, crossed the street, and crashed into another residence.

{¶2} At trial, Ford presented expert testimony that the alleged malfunction was not possible. The expert testified that even if the unexpected acceleration occurred, it was driver error that caused the injury. He testified that tests conducted on this type of vehicle demonstrated that, even with the car at wide-open throttle, a driver could stop the car by applying a mere 20 pounds of pressure on the brake pedal. As support, the expert played a videotape without audio of a braking demonstration conducted by Ford on a car identical to the Manigaults’ Crown Victoria. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury returned a verdict for Ford.

{¶3} Manigault appealed, asserting that the trial court erred by excluding various items of proffered evidence. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment on those issues and upheld the jury verdict for Ford.

{¶4} While the appeal was pending in the appellate court, Manigault’s attorney discovered that Ford possessed a copy of the video of the braking demonstration shown at trial that included sound. The audio portion includes a voice, probably the same expert who testified during trial, saying “one hundred seventy-five pounds.” Manigault argued that the video indicates that a brake effort of one hundred seventy-five pounds was necessary to stop the vehicle. Based on that interpretation, which she considered new evidence, Manigault filed a motion for reconsideration. The court of appeals denied the motion, limiting its consideration to evidence contained in the trial court record.

{¶5} The cause is now before this court pursuant to the allowance of a discretionary appeal.

{¶6} There are several troubling aspects about this case, not the least of which is the fact that, for reasons never fully explained, the vehicle whose malfunction allegedly caused the accident was not available for inspection at trial. However, we cannot get past one simple fact: the defendant presented a videotape without audio to the jury when a copy with contradictory audio was apparently available. Because we find this issue dispositive, we need not address the other issues before us.

Download Full Court Case

JONES v FORD MOTOR COMPANY

Present:  All the Justices

MARGARET JONES

v. Record No. 010136  OPINION BY JUSTICE LEROY R. HASSELL, SR.

March 1, 2002

FORD MOTOR COMPANY

FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF FAIRFAX COUNTY M. Langhorne Keith, Judge   In this appeal of a judgment entered in favor of an automobile manufacturer, the primary issue we consider is whether the manufacturer’s purported judicial admission barred the plaintiff from presenting evidence that the manufacturer had notice of an alleged defective condition in an automobile.

I.

The plaintiff, Margaret Jones, filed her motion for judgment against Ford Motor Company (Ford) and Cherner Lincoln Mercury-Annandale, Inc. (Cherner Lincoln Mercury).  She alleged that she and her husband purchased a 1991 Lincoln Town Car, manufactured by Ford, from Cherner Lincoln Mercury’s predecessor in interest.

The plaintiff pled that she was injured when a defect in the cruise control system in her Lincoln Town Car made the car accelerate suddenly without warning, causing the car to travel out of control across a street and crash into a concrete stanchion.  The plaintiff alleged, among other things, that Ford negligently designed the car’s cruise control system, negligently failed to warn her that the Lincoln Town Car could accelerate suddenly, and breached certain warranties.

The plaintiff alleged that Cherner Lincoln Mercury breached its warranty of merchantability to her for the following reasons:  the car was defectively designed because of defects in its throttle and cruise control systems, and the car was not adequately and properly tested for the purpose of determining whether a sudden unintended acceleration event was possible.  Ford and Cherner Lincoln Mercury filed separate grounds of defense and denied any liability to the plaintiff.

The litigants filed numerous pretrial motions.  Ford filed a motion in limine to exclude as evidence a study that Ford had commissioned, referred to as the Updegrove Study.  Ford also filed motions in limine to exclude evidence of other accidents, incidents, complaints, and lawsuits.  The plaintiff requested that the court permit her to use the depositions of a Virginia State Trooper and three United States Secret Service employees who had experienced unintended sudden acceleration events similar to the incident that she had experienced.  These deponents were operating cars manufactured by Ford when the unintended sudden acceleration events occurred.

On the morning of trial, the plaintiff dismissed her cause of action against Cherner Lincoln Mercury.  The circuit court permitted Ford to make a purported judicial admission that it had “[n]otice that there were sudden acceleration incidents in cars equipped with stand-alone cruise-control systems.”  Once Ford made this purported judicial admission, the circuit court ruled that the plaintiff could not use the depositions of the United States Secret Service employees, the State Trooper, or any information contained in the Updegrove Study.  At the conclusion of the trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Ford.  The plaintiff appeals.

Download Full Court Case

KNOSTER v FORD MOTOR COMPANY

.NOT PRECEDENTIAL

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT

____________

No. 05-3355

____________

ESTATE OF EDWARD W. KNOSTER, by IRENE KNOSTER as Administratrix Ad

Prosequendum; IRENE KNOSTER, individually; SYLVIA ANN REA;

Appellants,

v.

FORD MOTOR COMPANY,

Defendant/Third Party Plaintiff,

v.

IRENE KNOSTER,

Third Party Defendant.

____________

On Appeal from the United States District Court

for the District of New Jersey

(No. 01-cv-03168)

District Judge: Honorable Mary Little Cooper

Argued June 15, 2006

Before:  FISHER, CHAGARES and REAVLEY,* Circuit Judges.

____________

*The Honorable Thomas M. Reavley, United States Circuit Judge for the FifthCircuit, sitting by designation.

(Filed September 6, 2006)

Thomas J. Murray (Argued)
Mary S. O’Neil
Murray & Murray
111 East Shoreline Dr.
P.O. Box 19
Sandusky, OH 44871
Counsel for Appellant
Susan L. Bucknum (Argued)
Campbell Campbell Edwards & Conroy P.C.
690 Lee Rd., Suite 300
Wayne, PA 19087

Counsel for Appellee

OPINION OF THE COURTCHAGARES,

Circuit Judge.

On the evening of July 3, 1999, a one-car crash in Hunterdon County, New Jerseyclaimed Edward Knoster’s life.  In this diversity case, appellants Irene Knoster, SylviaRea, and the Estate of Edward Knoster (collectively, “the Knosters”) seek to recoverdamages from the car’s manufacturer, Ford Motor Company.  Specifically, they bringfailure-to-warn and design-defect claims under the New Jersey Product Liability Act(“PLA”), N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 2A:58C-1 to -11, and an additional claim under the NewJersey Consumer Fraud Act (“CFA”), N.J. Stat. Ann. § 56:8-1 to -106.

The District Court dismissed the consumer fraud claim at the close of evidence,and a jury rejected the failure-to-warn and design-defect claims.  On appeal, the Knosters challenge two of the District Court’s evidentiary rulings, its jury instructions, and itsdismissal of the consumer fraud claim.  As we explain below, neither the District Court’sevidentiary rulings nor its instructions on Ford’s duty to warn contained reversible error. But its design-defect instruction did, and we disagree with its conclusion that the PLAsubsumes the Knosters’ consumer fraud claim.  We will therefore affirm in part, reversein part, and remand for further proceedings.

Download Full Case

JARVIS v FORD MOTOR COMPANY

U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals
Jarvis v Ford Motor Company

United States of Court of Appeals
For the second Circuit
August Term, 2000
(Argued: May 14, 2001 Decided: February 07, 2002 Corrected: February 11, 2002)
Docket Nos. 99-9405 (L), 00-9215 (CON)

Kathleen Madaline Jarvis, Individually
and as a parent and guardian of
Paul Michael Attila Jarvis, a minor,
Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Ford Motor Company,
Defendant-Appellee,
Before: Oakes, Van Graafeiland, and Sotomayor, Circuit Judges.

Appeal from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Naomi Reice Buchwald, Judge) granting, inter alia, defendant-appellee’s motions for judgment as a matter of law and for relief from an inconsistent verdict. We hold that there was a legally sufficient evidentiary basis for a reasonable jury to find for plaintiff-appellant and, therefore, we vacate the judgment as a matter of law entered in defendant-appellee’s favor and remand for the district court to reinstate the jury verdict and award of damages. We also find that defendant- appellee’s claim of error arising from an allegedly inconsistent verdict was not adequately preserved and find no fundamental error in the jury instructions and verdict form. Finally, finding no abuse of discretion in the district court’s failure to hold a hearing, we affirm the district court’s determination of the amount by which the jury award should be adjusted to reflect collateral source payments pursuant to N.Y.C.P.L.R. 4545(c).

Vacated and remanded in part, affirmed in part.
Judge VanGraafeiland concurs in part and dissents in part in a separate opinion

THOMAS J. MURRAY, Murray & Murray Co., L.P.A., Sandusky, Ohio (George N. Tompkins, Jr., Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP, New York, NY, and Mary S. Birkett on the brief), for plaintiff-appellant.

SOTOMAYOR, Circuit Judge:
A six-day-old 1991 Ford Aerostar driven by plaintiff-appellant Kathleen Jarvis suddenly accelerated, resulting in an accident from which Jarvis sustained serious injuries. Jarvis contends that the Aerostar “took off” without her depressing the accelerator and that she was unable to stop the van by pumping the brakes.

Jarvis sued defendant-appellee Ford Motor Company (“Ford”) in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Buchwald, J.) claiming, inter alia, that Ford was negligent and should be held strictly liable for the design of the Aerostar’s cruise control mechanism. A jury returned a verdict for Jarvis on her negligence claim but not on her strict products liability claim and awarded her damages. Ford objected to the verdict as inconsistent. The district court agreed but did not assign a remedy because it held that the evidence was insufficient to support a verdict for Jarvis, granting Ford’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 50(b) motion for judgment as a matter of law and dismissing the complaint. For the sake of completeness, the court also granted Ford’s motion to reduce the amount of the verdict because of collateral source payments pursuant to N.Y.C.P.L.R. 4545.

We vacate the grant of judgment as a matter of law for Ford and remand for the district court to reinstate the jury verdict and award of damages as adjusted by the collateral source payments. Jarvis’s evidence, if credited by the jury, was sufficient to establish that the Aerostar malfunctioned due to Ford’s negligent design. To prove negligence, Jarvis was not required to establish what specific defect caused the Aerostar to malfunction. Ford, for its part, did not prove that a malfunction was so unlikely as to warrant judgment as a matter of law in its favor.

We also hold that the district court failed to apply the correct legal standard to Ford’s objection to an allegedly inconsistent verdict. Applying the correct standard under Fed. R. Civ. P. 51, we find that Ford waived any claim of error by failing to state distinctly the nature and basis of its objection before the jury retired to deliberate and that there was no fundamental error in the jury instructions or verdict sheet warranting relief on appeal. Finally, we hold that the district court did not abuse its discretion in not conducting a hearing on collateral source payments, as Jarvis failed to raise a disputed issue of material fact regarding Ford’s evidence of such payments.

Download Full Case

Deadly By Design

Videos

Click here to view more videos and stories that have made National headlines.

Contact Us

If you would like to report a sudden acceleration incident or need legal advice regarding a sudden acceleration-related accident, please call us at 419-624-3119, or use the contact form below.

captcha

Court Cases

STIMPSON v FORD MOTOR COMPANY

MANIGAULT v FORD MOTOR COMPANY

JONES v FORD MOTOR COMPANY

KNOSTER v FORD MOTOR COMPANY

JARVIS v FORD MOTOR COMPANY

Sudden Acceleration Publications

Intermittent Electrical Contact Resistance as a Contributory Factor in the Loss of Automobile Speed Control Functional Integrity

Sudden Acceleration – The Myth of Driver Error

Put the Brakes on Runaway-Vehicle Defenses

Faulty Cars or Faulty Drivers?

Lawyer Pioneers ‘Sudden Accleration’ Claims