Motor Vehicle Defects Found In 2000 Ford F-Series SuperCab Pickup Roof Crush
Most motor vehicle defect attorneys will agree that roof crush accidents in the 2000 Ford F-Series SuperCab pickup are dangerous to passengers. In 2001, Paul Alaniz, 35, was driving in Kingsville, Texas with three friends. Laura Benavides, 20 was seated behind him. Juan Flores, 26, and Eluterio Elizondo, 24 were in the front and rear seats on the passenger side. Alaniz, a physical-education teacher and youth football coach, drank at least two beers during the night (his blood-alcohol level was 0.04 percent, half the legal limit in Texas).
When Alaniz lost control of the F-150, the truck tipped on the passenger side and rolled three times off State Highway 2285. The driver's side roof was severely crushed and both drivers' side doors flew open. Alaniz and Benavides were ejected an estimated 100 feet into a field and died. But the doors on the passenger side stayed closed, keeping Flores and Elizondo in the vehicle and uninjured. None of the four were wearing seat belts.
"The SuperCab's "barn-door" style center-opening doors means there are no B-pillars to support the roof where it's needed most--in the center of the truck," observed nationally recognized motor vehicle defect lawyer John Bisnar.
The Alaniz and Benavides families filed a product liability lawsuit against Ford, insisting that this was clearly a survivable car accident had the F-150's doors stayed closed. Plaintiff's attorneys presented a four-minute video of an F-150 SuperCab ejected off a moving dolly at about 45 miles per hour. Ford had commissioned the test, mainly to demonstrate the severity of the car accident that killed Alaniz and Benavides. But the plaintiffs used the test to show how the SuperCab's doors popped open on the driver's side, and how the test dummies were partially ejected from the vehicle. A former Ford engineer testified that the latches fastening the front and rear driver's side doors failed because the roof caved in. He said that the driver's truck door latch failed on the second roll because of how the truck roof was crushed.
"Detroit's Big Three car makers have always tried to separate an occupant's ejection from the federal standards governing roof strength," said John Bisnar. "But in this case, the jury ruled that a crushed car roof forced open the driver's door and the rear-hinged passenger door on the same side. The jury linked roof deformation to occupant ejection in a rollover accident."
Ford's lawyer argued that Alaniz was solely at fault because he consumed alcohol on the evening of the car accident, then lost control of his F-150. He called the wreck a "violent" truck accident, something that happens every day, and that people die on the highway. Ford maintained that the SuperCab's roof exceeded Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 216 by 43 percent, adding that the truck was "reasonably safe."
"The Ford F-150 SuperCab has an abnormally high rate of ejections in rollovers," noted John Bisnar. "A total of 134 people were fatally ejected from F-Series SuperCabs from 1998 to 2001, according to a Ford internal document. The CrewCab version of the F-Series, which has four conventional doors with front hinges, accounted for 71 fatal ejections during the same period."
The Texas jury awarded the Alaniz and Benavides families a combined $225 million -- one of the biggest auto product liability judgments on record. The jury found that the SuperCab's crushed roof caused the side doors to burst open, ejecting Paul Alaniz and Laura Benavides to their deaths from the rolling pickup.
Ford chose not to appeal the defective car roof case and, instead, negotiated a confidential settlement with the Alaniz and Benavides families.
"The emotional pain endured by the Alaniz and Benavides families is unimaginable, yet they found the courage to confront Ford for what Ford's own video showed to be an unsafe truck," observed Brian Chase of the nationally recognized Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys defective products law firm. "Holding Ford accountable for this clearly preventable tragedy is to be commended. Our hope is that these product liability lawsuits, and the many lawsuits we have filed against Ford and other car makers will convince them to design stronger roofs 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.