Defective Auto Product: 1993 Lincoln Town Car Unsafe Gas Tank
Most product liability lawyers will admit that defective auto products can become a danger to the vehicles occupants. In 2003, 73-year-old John Jablonski was stopped near Granite City in his 1993 Lincoln Town Car when it was rear-ended by another car. The 65 mph collision caused the gas tank to catch fire and both John and his wife Dora were severely burned. John died from his burns in a hospital the next night. Dora, now in a nursing home, had her ears burned off and her nose severely disfigured.
Jablonski's family subsequently sued Ford. When Dora entered the courtroom, the first words out of her mouth were, "I know I look hideous." Defective auto product lawyers for the family argued that the Town Car's fuel tank design increased the risk of fire after the car accident's impact. They also pointed out that the gas tank design had caused fatal fires in similar vehicles sold to police agencies. And while Ford had warned the police about the dangers of gas tank ruptures, they failed to warn the rest of the car-buying public.
"Ford's 1993 Town Car was manufactured with a vertical behind-the-axle fuel tank," noted John Bisnar, nationally recognized auto defects attorney. "When a rear-end car collision ruptures the tank, it results in a fire that can quickly engulf the car in a matter of seconds. The Crown Victoria police car, another Ford produced vehicle, also had fuel tank fire problems. Since 2002, several lawsuits claimed the Crown Victoria exploded too easily after a rear-end collision. All these Ford vehicles--The Town Car, the Grand Marquis and the Crown Victoria--share the same platform. Having warned police departments of the gas tank dangers. Ford should have issued safety advisories to all its customers."
Ford insisted that this was a tragic car accident caused by a negligent driver who was searching for her sunglasses and crashing into a stationary car at 65 mph.
"Ford finally designed a gas tank shield--for police cars--that, when tested in 75 mph crashes, kept gas tanks intact. The shields were given to limousine manufacturers without charge. No such offer was made to ordinary consumers. Ford claimed they weren't needed for "civilian" vehicles, since they are not typically stopped next to moving traffic."
After deliberating for four hours, the Illinois jury ordered Ford to pay $43.8 million to the family of John Jablonski. Dora Jablonski was awarded $1.7 million for past and future medical care, $1.9 million for past and future medical assistance, $6.5 million for disability, $6.5 million for pain and suffering, and $6.5 million for disfigurement. The John Jablonski estate was awarded over $67,000 for the decedent's medical expenses, $500,000 for disfigurement and disability, $1 million for pain and suffering, and $3.5 million for loss of society.
Ford appealed the verdict, saying some three million of their Crown Vic, Town Car, and Mercury Marquis models already meet the highest federal safety standards in 50 mph car crash tests.
"Dora Jablonski, demonstrated exceptional courage under tremendous emotional pain in confronting a giant car maker," observed Brian Chase of the nationally recognized Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys auto product liability law firm. "Holding Ford accountable for this kind of preventable tragedy is truly commendable. Our hope is that these lawsuits, and the many lawsuits we have filed against Ford and other car makers will convince them to design safer, more crashworthy vehicles and prevent others from being seriously injured or killed."
If you or a loved one has suffered serious injuries as the result of a defective auto part or vehicle, contact the experienced California auto products liability attorneys at Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys for a free consultation. We will use our extensive knowledge and resources to achieve the best possible results for you and your family.