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ARTICLE ID 192552

DEFENDANT’S – PRODUCT LIABILITY – ALLEGED DEFECT IN ________ FORD FOCUS – LACK OF ELECTRONIC STABILITY CONTROL – LOSS OF CONTROL OF VEHICLE – DROWNING DEATH OF 16-YEAR-OLD BOY.

Broward County, FL

This product liability action was brought against Ford Motor Company, as the manufacturer of a ________ Ford Focus, as well as the dealership which sold the vehicle. The plaintiff alleged that the vehicle was defective in that it lacked an electronic stability control (“ESC”) which would have prevented the loss of control of the vehicle. The 16-year-old decedent drowned after the vehicle left the road and plunged into a 25 foot deep canal. The defendants maintained that vehicle was not defective, the fatal accident resulted solely from the negligence of the host driver and that it would not have been prevented by an ESC.

The young decedent died and three others were hospitalized on December 2, ________, at approximately 8:30 a.m. when the subject ________ Ford Focus went out of control, left the Sawgrass Expressway and landed in a canal in Coral Springs. The driver swam from the car and the Coral Springs Fire Department’s dive rescue team pulled the three passengers from the vehicle. Two of the occupants were revived in route to the hospital. However, the decedent could not be resuscitated and was pronounced dead as a result of drowning.

The plaintiff’s accident reconstruction expert testified that the driver of the vehicle, age 16, began to drift off the road. He attempted to regain the travel lane by over-steering the car to the right, causing the vehicle to go into a right rotation. The driver then turned the steering wheel back to the left, sending the car into a slide through an 80 foot wide shoulder and into the canal.

The plaintiff alleged that the ________ Ford Focus was defective because it lacked an ESC which would have prevented loss of control of the vehicle or enabled the driver to regain control before plunging into the canal. The plaintiff’s expert testified that equipping the vehicle was an ESC was entirely feasible and practical at the time the car was made and sold. The plaintiff additionally alleged that the defendant dealership failed to warn users regarding the lack of ESC on the vehicle.

The defendant’s vehicle handling expert testified that he conducted extensive driving tests with and without the use of an ESC. This expert testified that he determined that, had the ESC device been installed on the vehicle in question, it would not have made a difference in the outcome. The defense maintained that the 16-year-old driver became distracted, drifted into the oncoming lane and then over-corrected, causing the vehicle to skid into the canal.The jury found for the defendants.

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