Shook Wins Defense Verdict After Month-Long Trial in Limousine Fire Case

California Superior Court, San Mateo County

Shook, Hardy & Bacon attorneys obtained a defense verdict following a four-week trial in a lawsuit alleging Ford Motor Company was liable for a faulty aftermarket vehicle modification that caused a fire and fatalities.

Ford produced a stretched Town Car that held a weight restriction of six passengers in the rear of the car, but limousine operators modified one model to carry up to 12 passengers. When a group of passengers exceeded the weight limit, the floor structure fractured and caused contact between the floor pan and the drive shaft. Five women died in the resulting fire, and the family of one of the women filed a lawsuit against nine parties. Eight of the nine defendants reached settlements with the plaintiffs.

Representing Ford at trial, Shook attorneys argued that the limousine operators' modification caused the issue that led to the fire. The jury agreed, finding Ford not liable for the $42 million in damages the plaintiffs had sought.

Geronga v. Ford Motor Co., No. 524889 (Cal Super. Ct., San Mateo Cnty., 2016).