Ford Hit With $1.7 Billion Verdict Over F-250 Roof Collapse Deaths
Voncile and Melvin Hill were killed in 2014 when the Ford Super Duty F-250 pickup truck they were driving in rolled over on a rural Georgia road. Their sons, Kim and Adam Hill, filed the lawsuit against Ford, alleging that the company had known for at least 20 years that the roofs of their Super Duty trucks were dangerously weak yet kept them on the market.
A jury in Gwinnett County, Georgia, jury found Ford mostly to blame for the Hills' deaths on August 18, 2022, awarding Kim and Adam Hill $24 million in compensatory damages. The jury added $1.7 billion in punitive damages the next day.
Benjamin C. Zipursky, a professor at Fordham University School of Law, said the high punitive damages award in the case makes it clear that the jury "accepted the plaintiffs' lawyer's argument that Ford knew about the weak roof problem for decades and did nothing about it. "This perceived indifference to the possible death of customers evidently incensed the jury," Zipursky said.
What's the Problem with Ford Truck Roofs?
Evidence presented in the lawsuit indicated that Ford F-250 pickup trucks manufactured from 1999 to 2016 all pose a risk to drivers and passengers in cases of a rollover because the roof strength is not increased to account for the additional weight of the larger trucks.
At least 5.2 million trucks still on the road today have been built with the same potentially defective roof -- the "weakest in the Ford fleet of 31 vehicles" -- according to the lawsuit. Perhaps even more troubling is that Ford F-150 pickups, the best-selling vehicle in America, have a nearly identical roof design in models made prior to 2009.
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Ford to Appeal $1.7 Billion Verdict in Georgia Truck Crash: 11 Alive Video
Have Ford Trucks Been Recalled Over the Roof Crush Problem?
To date, Ford has not issued a voluntary recall over the alleged roof defect, and a forced recall is unlikely, seeking that just one such recall has been issued since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was formed in 1970: the Jeep CJ series recall in 1979.
However, voluntary recalls by Ford are not unheard of. The automaker announced a massive recall for nearly 3 million vehicles for an unintentional rollaway risk in the summer of 2022.
Have Other Lawsuits Been Filed?
In addition to the Hill case, as of March 2017, Ford had been hit with at least 162 other lawsuits alleging the rollover and roof crush, or failure of a roof, in F250, F350 or F450 pickup trucks. These cases included:
- A lawsuit filed in Minnesota federal court in March 2021 on behalf of Plaintiffs Ronald and Kory James. Ronald James suffered a cervical spinal cord injury when his 2003 Ford F350 rolled over, according to the lawsuit. "Because the roof of the 2003 F350 is not strong enough to support the weight of the vehicle, it collapses into occupants' survival space," the complaint states. The trial is expected to take place in early 2023.
- A case filed in Nevada federal court in August 2021 on behalf of the family of Luis Aguilar Hurtado, whose Ford F-250 allegedly rolled over, with the roof collapsing and killing him. The trial date will be set after the court rules on the pending motions for summary judgment.
- A lawsuit filed against Ford on behalf of Mary Ann and Kenneth Huie, who were traveling between 13 and 15 mph when their 2007 F-250 rolled over. The roof crushed down on them, leaving Mary Ann a quadriplegic and Kenneth a paraplegic. The case ended in a confidential settlement.
- A 2018 case that ended in a confidential settlement in favor of Plaintiff Carlos Paz-Orjales, who had been a fully seat-belted passenger in a 2005 Ford F350 Super Duty King Ranch truck when the driver lost control of the vehicle and the truck rolled over. The truck's roof caved in and crushed Paz-Orjales, severely injuring his spine and permanently rendering him a quadriplegic.
- Another case brought in California state court also ended in a confidential settlement. That case involved a rollover collision of a 2006 F350 pickup truck in which the roof allegedly crushed the occupant's so-called survival space, leaving the driver a quadriplegic.
It is not known how many more lawsuits Ford is facing from Super Duty truck rollovers; however, some cases may be headed for trial while others have ended in confidential settlement agreements.
Get a Free Ford Roof Lawsuit Evaluation With Our Lawyers
The Products Liability Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in Ford Roof Crush Lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new injury and death cases in all 50 states.
If you or a loved one was injured or killed in a rollover accident in which the roof collapsed on a Ford F250, F350 or F450 from model years 1999-2016, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to financial compensation by filing a lawsuit and our product liability lawyers can help.