A California jury on Thursday ordered Ford to pay $US246 million in punitive damages to a woman left paralysed from the waist down after her Ford Explorer rolled over in an accident.


Reuters said Benetta Buell-Wilson, 49, was awarded $122.6 million in compensatory damages against Ford on Tuesday, following a six-week trial in San Diego County over Buell-Wilson’s accident in January of 2002.


The two verdicts bring the total damages against Ford in the case to nearly $369 million, the news agency noted.


Ford spokeswoman Kathleen Vokes told Reuters the carmaker would appeal the decision, its first setback in a series of lawsuits over the safety of the Explorer.


“We are disappointed that the judge did not allow Ford to present key evidence comparing the Explorer to other SUVs,” Vokes reportedly said, adding: “In all 11 trials prior to this case, during which juries were allowed to hear all of the facts, the juries found the Explorer to be a safe vehicle.”


Vokes told Reuters that any sport utility vehicle would have rolled over under the circumstances of Buell-Wilson’s accident, in which her Explorer tipped after she swerved to avoid something in the road.


“The Explorer is an outstanding vehicle with a solid safety record and we will continue to aggressively defend our products,” Vokes added.