Motor Vehicle Defects Found In 1999 Ford 15-passenger Econoline Faulty Tire Valve
Most motor vehicle defect attorneys will agree that faulty tire valves can lead to dangerous outcomes. In 1999, Ramon and Maria Jimenez rented a 1999 Ford Econoline 15-passenger van to drive their family to Walt Disney World to celebrate their daughter Phoebe's 10th birthday. Tragically, young Phoebe's celebration would be cut short. When a tire blew out, the driver lost control and the van rolled over, leaving Phoebe in what family attorney described as "an almost complete vegetative state."
Ramon and Maria Jimenez subsequently sued Ford, seeking recovery for their daughter's severe brain damage and paralysis. Their product liability attorney alleged a defect in the Econoline's tire valve, which they insist caused the car accident.
"Ford faces hundreds of personal injury lawsuits because of rollovers," noted nationally recognized auto defect lawyer John Bisnar. "In a recent research report related to improper tire maintenance on 15-passenger vans, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study found that 74 percent of all 15-passenger vans had improperly inflated tires by a significant margin. NHTSA research has consistently shown that improperly inflated tires can change handling characteristics, increasing the likelihood of a rollover car crash in 15-passenger vans. Prior NHTSA research revealed that 15-passenger vans have a rollover risk that increases dramatically with the number of occupants. In fact, 15-passenger vans (with 10 or more occupants) had a rollover rate in single car crashes that was nearly three times that of lightly loaded vans (fewer than five occupants)."
A Ford spokeswoman claimed that the tire involved in the car accident was not manufactured by Firestone, which had caused some problems in the past. Instead, Ford lawyers reminded the jury that young Phoebe had not fastened her seat belt and that seat belts can help protect passengers only when they are worn. They added that none of the 12 occupants in the van were wearing seatbelts when it crashed. No proof of a manufacturing product defect was shown, adding that this was simply a tragic accident compounded by passengers not being properly belted.
"Once again, we have Ford doing a "duck and cover" move, blaming an easily preventable car accident and tragedy on people not wearing their seatbelts," observed John Bisner. "We all know the importance of wearing seat belts, which have demonstrated their value in saving lives, but the fact remains that this van did not roll over because Phoebe was not wearing a seat belt. The blame for this tragedy rests squarely on Ford's choice of tires and its faulty valve."
A Miami jury agreed, ordering Ford to pay $15.4 million to Ramon and Maria on behalf of their 12-year-old daughter Phoebe. The Circuit Court's original verdict was $30.7 million, but it was reduced by 50 percent because Phoebe was not wearing a seat belt.
"The tremendous emotional pain suffered by Ramon and Maria Jimenez is something no parent should have to endure, yet they found the courage to confront Ford for manufacturing an unsafe vehicle," observed Brian Chase of the nationally recognized Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys motor vehichle defect law firm. "Despite their pain, the Jimenez's did the right thing, choosing to hold Ford accountable for this clearly preventable tragedy. Our hope is that these product liability lawsuits, and the many lawsuits we have filed against Ford and other automakers will convince them to design better, more reliable tire valves 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.