A California jury has ordered Ford to pay at least $US122 million in damages to a woman left paralysed from the waist down after her Explorer SUV rolled over in an accident.
According to Reuters, the San Diego County jury awarded 49-year-old Benetta Buell-Wilson $122 million in compensatory damages and was still deliberating on punitive damages against Ford in the January 2002 accident.
Ford reportedly said it would appeal the decision, which marked its first setback in a series of lawsuits over alleged safety defects with the popular sport utility vehicle.
Spokeswoman Kathleen Vokes said in a statement that the fault for the accident was with the driver, Reuters noted.
“In all 11 trials prior to this case, juries have found the Explorer to be a safe vehicle. We are extremely disappointed that the judge did not allow key evidence comparing the Explorer to other SUVs,” Vokes reportedly said.
“We can appreciate the empathy that this jury felt for the plaintiff, but this was an extremely severe crash caused by the driver, and any SUV would have rolled over under similar circumstances. The evidence and real world data show the Explorer is a safe vehicle – it meets or exceeds all federal safety standards,” she added, according to Reuters.