Ford Motor Company Wins Jury Verdict in Seat Design and Rear Structure Case

Stanislaus County Superior Court

Shook, Hardy & Bacon successfully represented Ford Motor Company in a seven-week trial involving the design of the Ford Taurus. 

The minor plaintiff sustained serious injuries when an SUV struck the Ford Taurus in which he was a rear-seat passenger. The speed of the crash and biomechanical reconstruction were hotly contested by the plaintiff's attorneys, who ran multiple car-to-car crash tests to support their theories.

The plaintiff claimed not only that Ford failed to conduct adequate rear-impact safety testing, but also that his brain injuries were caused by intrusion from an inadequately designed rear structure combined with excessive deformation of an allegedly defective front seat. 

Countering that the vehicle's design was safe and defect-free, Shook's client maintained that the plaintiff's injuries were caused by his interaction with an aftermarket speaker box. Ford also asserted that the driver of the SUV caused the crash and all the resulting injuries by negligently taking his eyes off the road to reach for a bottle of Gatorade.

The plaintiff sought more than $18 million in damages, including $8 million in economic damages, as well as punitive damages in an unspecified amount. The Stanislaus County Superior Court granted Ford's motion for non-suit on the punitive damages claim, and on April 10, 2015, a jury returned a 10-2 defense verdict in favor of Ford.

The trial team was led by Shook, Hardy & Bacon San Francisco Partners Frank Kelly and Grant Law and Associates Kate Wolf and Rachael Smith. The legal issues at trial were handled by Partner Amir Nassihi.

A Law360 story covered the trial as well.

Verduzco v. Ford Motor Co., No. 615207 (Cal. Super. Ct., Stanislaus Cnty. 2015).