June 14, 2013

Awards Multi-Millions of Dollars in Damages for Catastrophic Injuries

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Duval county jury returned over a $4M verdict against Ford Motor Corporation, finding that the 2005 Ford F-150 fuel system is defective and that the fuel fed fire which occurred in an auto accident caused catastrophic injuries to plaintiff Michelle Brannen.

The lengthy three week trial heard before Judge Karen Cole, (case #16-2011-CA-001772, Fourth Circuit Court) argued that Ford’s decision to replace a metal safety skid plate with a plastic version, compromised the integrity of the fuel safety system, making it vulnerable to punctures and cuts from road debris and hazards.

On July 18, 2008, Michelle Brannen was the passenger in a Ford F-150 traveling on SW 5th Avenue in Union County, Fla. The driver lost control of the vehicle, causing the truck to leave the roadway and run over a stop sign post. As the F-150 ran over the post, it fractured in two and punctured the unprotected fuel tank, leading to a fuel fed fire. Michelle Brannen managed to survive, but suffered catastrophic burns.

The lawsuit filed on Ms. Brannen’s behalf, alleged that the initial impact of the accident did not cause injury, however, the fuel tank was not adequately protected nor equipped with the protective safety shield needed to prevent the punctures from foreseeable roadside hazards. The case further alleged that as a result of the defective design, fuel was able to escape when the tank ruptured, resulting in the fire that set the truck ablaze.

“The jury’s finding that the 2005 F-150’s fuel system is defective is vindication for Ms. Brannen that her horrific injuries were needlessly caused. Had Ford Motor Company been concerned with protecting its’ trucks fuel tank, these terrible injuries would never have occurred, stated Theodore J. Leopold, attorney for the family. “The Jury’s decision not only brings justice for Ms. Brannen and her children, but should be a glaring signal to Ford that safety counts and cannot be ignored. We hope this decision will raise awareness for consumers and encourage Ford to live up to their name and build safer trucks.”

Managing Partner Mr. Leopold, along with attorneys Adam J. Langino and Diana L. Martin of the consumer justice law firm Leopold Law, P.A., represented in Michelle Brannen in this litigation.