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Ford Ordered to Pay $31 Million in Rollover Case (Because Glass Breaks in Rollover)
Reuters ^ | March 3, 2005 | Reuters

Posted on 03/03/2005 7:56:48 AM PST by naturalized

A Texas jury has found Ford Motor Co. liable for a rollover accident involving a Ford Explorer in another legal setback for the manufacturer of America's most popular sport utility vehicle.

On Tuesday, the jury in Zavala County District Court ordered Ford to pay $31 million in compensatory damages in the case, Ford spokeswoman Kathleen Vokes said.

(Excerpt) Read more at reuters.com ...


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: alcohol; break; dallas; explorer; extortion; federal; ford; fordmotor; glass; glazing; judge; jury; laminated; lawsuit; million; ohara; rollover; seatbelt; suv; tempered; texas
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What the MSM is not reporting is that the women were not wearing their seatbelts and the driver had been drinking. Essentially, the claim against Ford was that the side glass broke during the rollover, allowing the admittedly unrestrained occupants to be ejected. The jury said the failure of these women to wear their seatbelts was not a cause of their injuries.

During the trial, the lover of one of the plaintiffs' lawyers was thrown off the jury, but the judge failed to declare a mistrial.

1 posted on 03/03/2005 7:56:49 AM PST by naturalized
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To: naturalized
Nope, we don't need tort reform. </sarcasm>
2 posted on 03/03/2005 7:58:31 AM PST by the_devils_advocate_666
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To: naturalized

And there is no need for tort reform...GO BUSH


3 posted on 03/03/2005 7:58:46 AM PST by 2banana (My common ground with terrorists - They want to die for Islam, and we want to kill them.)
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To: naturalized

Gee, imagine that. The glass broke when the SUV rolled over. I'm shocked.


4 posted on 03/03/2005 7:59:23 AM PST by Enterprise (President Bush thought Wead was a friend. Turns out he was just a big fat tape worm.)
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To: naturalized

The glass breaks when you get drunk and roll your vehicle?

Who'd of thunk it?


5 posted on 03/03/2005 7:59:59 AM PST by PBRSTREETGANG
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To: naturalized

This makes the case for tort reform.


6 posted on 03/03/2005 8:00:16 AM PST by lilylangtree (Veni, Vidi, Vici)
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To: naturalized
lover of one of the plaintiffs' lawyers was thrown off the jury...

Now we're gonna need to wear seatbelts while sitting in the jury box too! :-)

7 posted on 03/03/2005 8:01:00 AM PST by C210N
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To: naturalized
I'm no fan of Ford but, from all the stories I've read/heard, this case hads little, if any, merit. The jury sis obviously out to get a deep pocket but, IMO, the party to be sued would seem to be the driver who was impaired. I'm surprised he wasn't named as a Defendant in the suits by the estates of the passengers.
8 posted on 03/03/2005 8:01:14 AM PST by drt1
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To: naturalized

Jurors were all members of the U.N.


9 posted on 03/03/2005 8:01:39 AM PST by odoso (Millions for charity, but not one penny for tribute!)
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To: naturalized

The standard of a safe vehicle has never been one that preserves your life no matter what happens or how stupid you drive.

To say the side glass shouldn't break is crazy. If we made it unbreakable (and added another 100 pounds to vehicle weight) some plaintiff lawyer would then sue for the dead woman in Ted Kennedy's car who drowned as she couldn't break the glass and get out.


10 posted on 03/03/2005 8:01:49 AM PST by RicocheT
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To: naturalized

No no no! Just ask some of our lawyer friends on FR, there aren't really any overly lavish awards being handed out in tort cases. Everything's just fiiiiiine. Go back to sleep now. That's it. All better.


11 posted on 03/03/2005 8:05:59 AM PST by TChris (Most people's capability for inference is severely overestimated)
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To: naturalized

A Texas jury found Ford Motor Co. liable for $31 million for the deaths of two 19-year-old women in an Explorer rollover accident.


The women, Corina Garcia and Diana Alicia Alonzo, were ejected from a 2000 Explorer in which they were passengers when it turned over in May 2003 outside San Antonio. Their families sued Ford, alleging that the company should have used stronger glass in the vehicle.


"Ford's body-engineering office did a cost evaluation, and their own documents showed this would cost only $6 to $10 a car," said Mikal Watts of Corpus Christi, Texas, the lawyer for the women's families.


On Tuesday, the Crystal City jury found Ford 90 percent liable for the $31 million. It assigned 10 percent of the responsibility to the driver of the Explorer. Under Texas law on liability, Ford must pay the entire amount because it was found more than 50 percent responsible, and the driver has no assets, Watts said. The verdict is the third against Ford in an Explorer rollover lawsuit. The company won the first 13 to go to trial before losing a $369-million jury verdict in San Diego in June.

http://www.freep.com/money/autonews/irep3e_20050303.htm


12 posted on 03/03/2005 8:06:47 AM PST by frithguild (Defining hypocrisy - Liberals fear liberty.)
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To: naturalized

CRYSTAL CITY, Texas - A Zavala County jury has hit Ford Motor Co. with a $28 million verdict in a fatal rollover, despite evidence that the driver had been drinking before the accident and was driving at an unsafe speed.

The decision, reached in just six hours Tuesday and approved by 10 of the 11 jurors, awarded another $3 million in damages against Saul Guerrero Jr., who was behind the wheel of the 2000 Explorer at the time of the May 2003 crash.

Corina Garcia and Diana Alicia Alonzo, both 19, were thrown from the vehicle and killed. Passenger Arturo Guerrero, 18, and driver Saul Guerrero Jr., 19, were also ejected but not seriously injured.

The jury found Ford 90 percent responsible for the deaths, and Guerrero Jr. 10 percent responsible.

Plaintiff's lawyers had wanted up to $100 million in damages, arguing most of the blame lay with the automaker for using tempered side glass despite learning more than 30 years ago that laminated glass reduced the risk of passengers being ejected in a wreck.

"Saul Guerrero caused the accident but Ford caused the injury and the deaths," attorney Mikal Watts told jurors in closing arguments. "The evidence is overwhelming that a safer alternative design existed. It would have cost them $6 to $10 a car."

Ford lawyers said the vehicle glass met all safety standards. The company now uses laminated side glass in some of its more expensive models - but they said increased safety isn't the main reason.

"The impairment of the driver caused the accident. He was driving too fast on a caliche road at 2:30 in the morning, and no one was wearing seat belts," lawyer J.R. Rodriguez said. "Ninety-eight percent of the people walk away from rollover accidents if they are wearing seat belts."

The trial was interrupted last week when Ford lawyers discovered one of the jurors, Diana Palacios, was the girlfriend of plaintiffs' lawyer Jesse Gamez. In a hearing over a defense request for a mistrial, evidence was presented that Palacios, the Crystal City city manager, had also solicited two of the plaintiffs for Gamez to represent.

After refusing to grant a mistrial, Judge Amado Abascal removed Palacios. Another juror was excused at the same time because of a death in the family, and both sides agree to continue with only 11 members. The trial lasted two weeks.

Crystal City is 95 miles southwest of San Antonio.

http://www.heralddemocrat.com/articles/2005/03/03/texas_news/iq_1763062.txt


13 posted on 03/03/2005 8:08:59 AM PST by frithguild (Defining hypocrisy - Liberals fear liberty.)
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To: naturalized; the_devils_advocate_666; 2banana; lilylangtree; drt1; RicocheT

Tort reform or idiot jury reform? What we have here is the results of the MSM campaign against SUV's

What federal law do you propose to prevent this kind of abusive verdict?

Is there anything to the temepered glass argument? After all, subsequently manufactured vehicles of the same type were equipped with it...


14 posted on 03/03/2005 8:16:41 AM PST by frithguild (Defining hypocrisy - Liberals fear liberty.)
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To: frithguild

How much did the lawyer of this accident get? Should have sued the SUV since it was the one that decided to roll over. The driving drunk, fast driving, broken glass etc. was not the fault of the human.


15 posted on 03/03/2005 8:19:18 AM PST by Piquaboy (22 year veteran of the Army, Air Force and Navy, Pray for all our military .)
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To: naturalized

America the Ridiculous. Why would anybody even desire to manufacture or sell any product that has the slightest chance of causing any type of mishap.

See tagline! It's not special for this thread, either.


16 posted on 03/03/2005 8:21:04 AM PST by Fierce Allegiance (“Every time a system is made foolproof - a new class of fool emerges.”)
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To: drt1

My mom's friend's daughter was carpooling with a guy who refused to wear a seatbelt in her car. They wrecked and he made a lot of cash for his injuries, even though he would have probably been unharmed if he had worn one and let me repeat, HE REFUSED TO WEAR ONE!

Actions, meet consequences, I think you two may have met somewhere before, a long, long time ago.


17 posted on 03/03/2005 8:24:26 AM PST by WV Mountain Mama (Good luck to my brother in law Mike, competing in Ironman New Zealand, March 2005.)
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To: frithguild
Perhaps, in a legal sense, there is. But by extending that logic, anyone who was injured or killed in the crash of a small car, or their estates, would be entitled to an award since bigger cars are safer in a crash. As another poster eluded to, when the cost of these lawsuits outweighs profits there will be no cars to drive, since no one would bother to manufacture them.
18 posted on 03/03/2005 8:27:17 AM PST by SoCal Pubbie
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Comment #19 Removed by Moderator

To: frithguild

tempered glass is significantly stronger than laminated. Laminated will crack and shatter, but will stay together. However, since it is not locked into the frame by adhesive or gasket, it will simply fold over because the laminate is simply a thin piece of plastic (polyvinylbuterate)

Some luxury cars are now using laminated glass on side windows. This is for acoustic reasons, not safety.


20 posted on 03/03/2005 8:31:34 AM PST by cyclotic (Cub Scouts-Teach 'em young to be men, and politically incorrect in the process)
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To: the_devils_advocate_666

If juries keep running amok with rewards like this ($369 mil in a similar case), there are going to be dire, dire consequences, including huge increases in costs for buying goods and high unemployment because companies will not be able to stay afloat. The lawyers really do run the world and they're doing a crappy job.


21 posted on 03/03/2005 8:33:05 AM PST by Paved Paradise
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To: naturalized

Are there any picture of the car after the rollover?


22 posted on 03/03/2005 8:33:31 AM PST by fella
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To: SoCal Pubbie; frithguild
idiot jury reform

Well, when a trial lawyer can "shop" for a judge, "shop" for the right court and pick the jury they want - yeah - you are going to idiot juries...

23 posted on 03/03/2005 8:33:45 AM PST by 2banana (My common ground with terrorists - They want to die for Islam, and we want to kill them.)
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To: Piquaboy

This is an obviously excessive verdict. Generally, if it shocks the judicial conscience it will be thrown out and retried. That presupposes this judge has a conscience. Who ended up taking the blame is also totally wrong. But this is the fault of the JURY.

How would tort reform help this?


24 posted on 03/03/2005 8:36:34 AM PST by frithguild (Defining hypocrisy - Liberals fear liberty.)
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To: naturalized

Where in this article does it say that the glass broke?

This isn't the actual headline, btw.


25 posted on 03/03/2005 8:36:59 AM PST by Blzbba (Don't hate the player - hate the game!)
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To: frithguild
What federal law do you propose to prevent this kind of abusive verdict?

One that says that if the manufacturer builds a product that complies with a design expressly allowed in an applicable federal regulation, that the product cannot be found to be defective by reason of its design.

Is there anything to the temepered glass argument?

This is exactly the kind of thinking that plaintiffs' lawyers want from juries. Which part of glass breaking in a rollover accident don't you understand? All glass breaks in a rollover accident.

After all, subsequently manufactured vehicles of the same type were equipped with it...

Again, this thinking is a plaintiffs' lawyers' dream. Just because a manufacturer changes something, doesn't mean they were changing it to remake an unsafe product into a safe one. Laminated glass in side windows is for sound reduction and to slow down criminals. It is not a substitute for seat belts.

26 posted on 03/03/2005 8:37:05 AM PST by naturalized (Some folks look at me and see a certain swagger, which in Texas is called walking.)
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To: naturalized

This is ridiculous. And we will just allow this continue until our auto companies are bankrupted with these absurd lawsuits.


27 posted on 03/03/2005 8:37:49 AM PST by RichardW
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To: lilylangtree

Tart reform, too.


28 posted on 03/03/2005 8:42:01 AM PST by sine_nomine (Protect the weakest of the weak - the unborn babies.)
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To: cyclotic
Laminated will crack and shatter, but will stay together.

This isn't really correct, and is simply wrong if you throw an unrestrained occupant against the window.

29 posted on 03/03/2005 8:42:16 AM PST by naturalized (Some folks look at me and see a certain swagger, which in Texas is called walking.)
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To: SoCal Pubbie

In most products liability cases the court employs a risk/utility analysis - does the cost of a safer alternative design outweigh the risks? Your example is not a very good case, and may not survive a summary judgment motion. No manufacturer owes a duty to ensure the safety of occupants under all crash conditions. What they are responsibel for, generally, is the amount of injury that could have been prevented by the safer design. In this case, the safer alternative design costed $6-10 in a probably $25,000 vehicle. Occupants that were not ejected lived - the ones that were died. Tough facts for Ford.

So how can tort reform help?


30 posted on 03/03/2005 8:42:50 AM PST by frithguild (Defining hypocrisy - Liberals fear liberty.)
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To: naturalized

How did I guess that the "plaintiffs" were Hispanic.

There's a lawyer in Texas named Jim Adler who constantly advertises himself on TV as the "tough, smart lawyer", (I kid you not). He's constantly advertising about the amounts of "settlements" his clients get. The ads are hilarious (if not sick and depressing) and blatant about the amount of money you can win if you sue, sue, sue.

"Burned, loss of limb, hurt, wreck, Vioxx, murder, death kill", call Jim Adler, the TOUGH, SMART LAWYER!"

The ads are available in Spanish too. "Get the settlement that "yew" deserve!".


31 posted on 03/03/2005 8:44:47 AM PST by garyhope
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To: cyclotic

Certainly a proposition a jury could accept or reject. Plaintiffs made a case here that the laminated would have preventd the ejection of the occupants. So it's a jury issue.

Stupid system or stupid jury?


32 posted on 03/03/2005 8:45:14 AM PST by frithguild (Defining hypocrisy - Liberals fear liberty.)
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To: naturalized

They are joking right?


33 posted on 03/03/2005 8:46:10 AM PST by Fast1 (Destroy America buy Chinese goods.)
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To: naturalized; MeekOneGOP

BTTT


34 posted on 03/03/2005 8:48:16 AM PST by Fiddlstix (This Tagline for sale. (Presented by TagLines R US))
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To: 2banana

Texas is known for runaway verdicts, because judges are elected and backed by plaintiff's trial lawyers.

Forum shopping is a problem, but less so in tort cases. In tort cases venues is generally proper in the county where one of the parties resides or does business or where the accident happened. You get forum shopping big time in class action cases, where you have many parties living all over the country.

What would you propose as far as reform for venue in tort cases with just one plaintiff?


35 posted on 03/03/2005 8:49:40 AM PST by frithguild (Defining hypocrisy - Liberals fear liberty.)
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To: frithguild
"Occupants that were not ejected lived - the ones that were died. Tough facts for Ford. "

And which of the rejected occupants had there seat belts on as required by law?

What we have here is another scum sucking lawyer making it imposible to do business in the USA.

36 posted on 03/03/2005 8:52:30 AM PST by jpsb
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To: cyclotic
You might find these interesting - this is how an Explorer can protect you in an accident if you are belted: White Settlement Volunteer Fire Department
37 posted on 03/03/2005 8:58:22 AM PST by naturalized (Some folks look at me and see a certain swagger, which in Texas is called walking.)
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To: naturalized

Actually, the PVB layer is designed to prevent the occupant from ejecting through the glass. Part of the head may break glass and PVB, but will not take the entire body through. Additionally, the windshield adhesive holds the glass onto the frame of the vehicle, preventing release and ejection.

Once the glass cracks, it loses structural integrity, but will still hold together enough to prevent ejection.

The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards test(#212/208) is actually designed for a frontal collision at 30mph with dual airbags and un-restrained dummies. Because of the windshield, ejection simply does not occur out the front window.


38 posted on 03/03/2005 8:58:49 AM PST by cyclotic (Cub Scouts-Teach 'em young to be men, and politically incorrect in the process)
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To: naturalized

Great photo's. You'll notice that thay had to cut the windshield with a sawzall.


39 posted on 03/03/2005 9:01:49 AM PST by cyclotic (Cub Scouts-Teach 'em young to be men, and politically incorrect in the process)
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To: naturalized
One that says that if the manufacturer builds a product that complies with a design expressly allowed in an applicable federal regulation, that the product cannot be found to be defective by reason of its design.

This is a good argument, but it is not without its problems. This has been used effectively in the labeling of hazardous products. What federal power do you propose supports this intrusion into the power of the states to conduct their power to regulate torts, which should be reserved to them under the 11th amendment. Maybe the power to regulate commerce between the states? Excessive used of federal power, IMHO. It also makes the legislative process open to corruption. How much lobbying or campaign contributions will it take to get your cookie cutter regulation passed? Standards are fine - the fereral government should not have the power to make them preclusive. How is promoting perclusive federal regulation "conservative"?

This is exactly the kind of thinking that plaintiffs' lawyers want from juries. Which part of glass breaking in a rollover accident don't you understand? All glass breaks in a rollover accident.

Yes, it is, and that is why I have challenged you with it. And it makes the point here that what you have is a stupid jury. Yet, the tort system takes the lightning strikes and the jury escapes criticism.

Again, this thinking is a plaintiffs' lawyers' dream. Just because a manufacturer changes something, doesn't mean they were changing it to remake an unsafe product into a safe one. Laminated glass in side windows is for sound reduction and to slow down criminals. It is not a substitute for seat belts.

Same point as previous.

40 posted on 03/03/2005 9:02:20 AM PST by frithguild (Defining hypocrisy - Liberals fear liberty.)
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To: frithguild

Stupid, ignorant loser, knownothing, idiotic, waste of brain cells and oxygen, get the BIGAUTO Company stupid jury.


41 posted on 03/03/2005 9:03:10 AM PST by cyclotic (Cub Scouts-Teach 'em young to be men, and politically incorrect in the process)
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To: jpsb

Oh, so it's the lawyers fault and not the jury who rejected the good sense argument you propose?

So what's your solution, "Kill all the lawyers"? Or just the ones you don't like?


42 posted on 03/03/2005 9:05:40 AM PST by frithguild (Defining hypocrisy - Liberals fear liberty.)
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To: frithguild

Both


43 posted on 03/03/2005 9:06:19 AM PST by John D
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To: cyclotic

EXACTLY!


44 posted on 03/03/2005 9:07:39 AM PST by frithguild (Defining hypocrisy - Liberals fear liberty.)
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To: frithguild
Occupants that were not ejected lived - the ones that were died. Tough facts for Ford.

Read #13 again:

"Passenger Arturo Guerrero, 18, and driver Saul Guerrero Jr., 19, were also ejected but not seriously injured."

The plaintiffs' attorneys would have liked you on the jury, too.

Not wearing your seatbelt is dangerous to you and others in your vehicle, and in this case, caused two deaths.

How about this for tort reform: if you don't use the available safety features on a product, and if you had used the safety feature you would not have been injured, you lose.

45 posted on 03/03/2005 9:08:06 AM PST by naturalized (Some folks look at me and see a certain swagger, which in Texas is called walking.)
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To: John D

So what is stupid about the system, which you would reform?


46 posted on 03/03/2005 9:08:49 AM PST by frithguild (Defining hypocrisy - Liberals fear liberty.)
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To: frithguild
Ford lawyers said the vehicle glass met all safety standards. The company now uses laminated side glass in some of its more expensive models - but they said increased safety isn't the main reason.

"The impairment of the driver caused the accident. He was driving too fast on a caliche road at 2:30 in the morning, and no one was wearing seat belts," lawyer J.R. Rodriguez said. "Ninety-eight percent of the people walk away from rollover accidents if they are wearing seat belts."

This does not say that they have replaced all side windows with laminated glass, nor does it say that the purpose of ANY glass is to keep someone from being ejected in the case of a rollover. It says that SEAT BELTS, which are required to be used by all occupants by law (assuming in Texas as in most, if not all, states) will keep you from being ejected.

Since there is a seat belt law, which was broken, I cannot see why any of the plaintiffs should have been able to sue Ford since they caused their own injuries.

If the side window glass had the purpose of keeping the occupants inside the vehicle, there would be no way that the window could be opened since that would compromise safety.

Yes, time for tort reform. If Ford caused the injuries by implying that the glass would replace seatbelts then they should be liable. I can't even buy the $6-10 claim that it would be safer since the window is made to be open!
47 posted on 03/03/2005 9:10:43 AM PST by Abby4116
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To: naturalized
How about this for tort reform: if you don't use the available safety features on a product, and if you had used the safety feature you would not have been injured, you lose.

Agree 100%. I can go one better - Until 1900 - 1950 tort suits were barred by the doctrine of contributory negligence. If your negligence contributed to your injuries to even the slightest degree, you would have no recovery, unless the defendnat was guilty od wilful and wanton misconduct. Now we have comparative negligence, to prevent "harsh results", where the amount of the recovery is reduced by the percentage that your own fault contributes to your injuries.

48 posted on 03/03/2005 9:13:23 AM PST by frithguild (Defining hypocrisy - Liberals fear liberty.)
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To: garyhope
At one time in Texas, lawyers were considered "Officers of the Court" and were not allowed to advertise.
There were very few tort problems.
Now they advertise 24/7.
I do not know if lawyers are no longer considered Officers of the court or a judge said they were allowed to advertise.
49 posted on 03/03/2005 9:13:42 AM PST by HuntsvilleTxVeteran (Rush agrees with me 98.5% of the time!)
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To: frithguild
First, no intelligent jury would ever reach such terrible decision without a lot of help from a idiot Judge (lawyer) and scum sucking plaintiffs attorney. How did the plaintiffs boyfriend get on the jury? If that ain't a mistrail then what is? What fool would conclude that it's Fords fault when you get hurt drunk, speeding without seat belts on? Our civil courts have turned into a lottery, not a law court.
50 posted on 03/03/2005 9:16:14 AM PST by jpsb
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