Breaking news today as Ford Motor Company was hit with a $23,441,000 verdict in Rancho Cucamonga, California. On March 23, 2007, Cynthia Castillo was driving her 1997 2-door Ford Explorer when a tire detreaded. The Ford Explorer became unstable and undrivable. The Explorer’s instability caused the vehicle to run off of the road and over a cliff. Cynthia suffered catastrophic injuries that rendered her a paraplegic.
Castillo’s attorneys presented evidence that Ford engineers found ways to improve the Explorer’s stability and safety, but management refused to pay for the safety improvements. Ford’s management put profit in front of safety.
After a trial that began on January 4, the jury today reached a unanimous verdict that awarded Cynthia Castillo $13,441,000 for her past and future medical care and an additional $10 million for Cynthia’s pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. The unanimous verdict found Ford 91.5% percent at fault for the crash that led to Cynthia’s injuries. The jury also placed 7% of the fault on a tire retailer and placed 1.5% of the fault on Cynthia. Punitive damages were not submitted.
From the Contra Costa Times:
"I was devastated," Castillo said. "I thought my life was over but with my daughter and my family’s support, and with God and my faith in him, it helped me be stronger and believe there was life after this, that I could do it."
On Thursday in West Valley Superior Court, a jury returned a 12-0 verdict in Castillo’s favor.
"My reaction is very happy," Castillo said. "I’m thankful to God and to the jury for making this happen. It’s going to help us so much to make a better life for me and my daughter.
"I want to thank my family for supporting me for these past three years. It’s been hard."
Castillo requires round-the-clock care, and can’t feed, clothe or bathe herself. She has be turned over every two hours to keep from suffering bed sores, Brandt said.
With the large judgment in her favor, Castillo said she will likely move out of her parents’ house and into a home that allows her to move more freely.
She said she has was knocked unconscious during the accident and woke up in the hospital with no memory of what happened.
"My family is very happy for me, for my daughter," Castillo said. "They are glad that justice has been served.
"And they also thank God that everything is going to be a lot better for me and my daughter. We both just came from church right now and we gave our thanks."
We are ecstatic for our client and her family and thankful that Cynthia will be able to receive the additional care she needs and deserves.
This $23 million verdict is only the most recent in a string of verdicts finding the Ford Explorer and other Ford vehicles defective and dangerous. The United States Supreme Court recently upheld an $83 million dollar verdict against Ford in a California case in which a San Diego woman was paralyzed when her Ford Explorer vehicle rolled over.
Another California jury awarded $18.3 million to an Oakland man who was paralyzed after his Ford van rolled over.
Ford settled another Explorer case in which a passenger was paralyzed while the jury was considering punitive damages after awarding more than $16 million to compensate the victim.
Despite findings that the Explorer is defective and dangerous, Ford has rocketed back to profitability — earning a $2.7 billion profit in 2009.
I applaud these juries for holding Ford accountable for cutting corners on safety. It is time that companies who cut corners and put profits over safety are held accountable for the harm they inflict. More juries need to ensure that large companies play by the same rules as the rest of us. Innocent victims should not be forced to suffer for corporate greed.
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Brett Emison is currently a partner at Langdon & Emison, a firm dedicated to helping injured victims across the country from their primary office near Kansas City. Mainly focusing on catastrophic injury and death cases as well as complex mass tort and dangerous drug cases, Mr. Emison often deals with automotive defects, automobile crashes, railroad crossing accidents (train accidents), trucking accidents, dangerous and defective drugs, defective medical devices.