A jury has awarded the family of Brian Cole $131 million in their SUV rollover
lawsuit against Ford for his wrongful death. Cole, a 22-year-old top prospect
for the New York Mets, died on March 31, 2001 after he was thrown from
his 2001 Ford Explorer on Interstate 10 close to Florida Highway 286.
The punitive damages portion of the case was settled for an undisclosed
amount. The jury also awarded $1.5 million to Ryan Cole, Cole’s
cousin who was injured during the single car crash.
This is the third time that Cole’s family has sought to obtain auto
products liability compensation against Ford. Two other trials had ended
in hung juries.
According to the Mississippi sport utility vehicle rollover complaint,
Cole’s SUV rolled over when he veered the car to avoid striking
another auto. Cole’s family contends that he died because that particular
Explorer model was at risk of rolling over and had a seat belt that was
Ford had argued that Cole was speeding at over 80 mph when he “turned
his steering wheel 295 degrees” to lose control of the auto. They
also claimed Cole was thrown from the vehicle when it rolled over because
he was not using his seat belt. Ford contends that it was denied a fair
trial because certain evidence involving the wrongful death case was kept out.
Thousands are injured and killed in rollover crashes each year. Many of
these tragic SUV rollover crashes are a result of negligence on an automaker’s
part. There are many vehicles out there that lack the proper safety features
necessary to protect car occupants during a rollover crash. Traumatic
brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, roof crush-related injuries, and
injuries from being thrown from the SUV are not uncommon. In addition
to design and safety defects, other auto defects that can cause serious
injuries or death to vehicle occupants during an SUV rollover include
seat belt defects, airbag defects, seatback failures, poorly structured
vehicle rooftops, tire flaws, and window defects.
Brian Cole’s family awarded $131 million in lawsuit, NBC Sports, September 2, 2010
$132M awarded in ’01 crash, ClarionLedger, September 3, 2010
Lawyer: Ford, family settle in player crash death, Google/AP, September 2, 2010
Related Web Resources: Rollover, Frontline, PBS