. .

Invest in your success.
JVRA helps lawyers win cases by providing critical information you can use to establish precedent, determine demand and win arguments.



Dallas County, Texas

This was a product liability action in which the plaintiffs contended that as a result of a defective tire on a `96 Ford Explorer, the vehicle experienced a sudden and catastrophic tire failure, causing it to roll over. The plaintiffs maintained that the rollover resulted in the death of the right rear seat passenger, a wife and mother of three, minor injuries to the plaintiff husband/driver, and permanent injuries to the passenger son. Two of the plaintiffs’ other children were traveling in a car behind the Explorer and witnessed their mother being thrown from the vehicle as it rolled over and brought claims for emotional distress damages. The defendants included Ford Motor Company, Michelin Tire (as distributor of Uniroyal tires), ProCare Automotive Solutions and others. The defendants claimed that the rollover was not caused by a tire defect, that the plaintiff driver’s negligence was the cause of the accident, and maintained that the decedent passenger wife was ejected due to her failure to wear her available safety belt.

The evidence revealed that on July 12, ________, the plaintiff husband, James W., a 52-year-old sales manager, was operating his ________ Ford Explorer when suddenly and unexpectedly, the left rear tire, which was a Uniroyal Steel Belted Radial Laredo All Season AWD P235/75R15, experienced a "de-tread," or delamination of the steel belt, causing the tread to separate from the tire and resulting in an emergency situation. The plaintiff driver attempted to maintain control of the Ford Explorer after the tire delaminated, however, due to the inherent instability of the Explorer, he lost control of the Explorer whereupon it allegedly rolled over four times.

The decedent wife, Dianne W., was in the right rear seat. She was ejected from the vehicle during the rollover. She suffered numerous, severe injuries and died at the scene. The Plaintiffs contended that she was restrained while the Defendants contended she was not. The plaintiff driver maintained that he suffered minor injuries including cuts, bruises and abrasions as well as fractures of the collarbone, shoulder blade and wrist. The plaintiff son, Kenneth Charles W. was the front seat passenger. He claimed to have suffered severe and permanent injuries including broken bones and post-traumatic stress disorder. Kiersten W. and Shaeffer W. were riding in a vehicle following their parents’ Ford Explorer. They observed their mother being ejected from the vehicle as it rolled over and came to a rest. Kiersten was 12 years old and Shaeffer was age seven at the time.

Prior to the incident in question, the Plaintiff husband had the subject vehicle inspected at the co-defendant ProCare Automotive in Rowlett, Dallas County, Texas. The inspection took place on June 11, ________. ProCare inspected the vehicle for a state inspection, inspected the tires on the vehicle and said that they were in "good shape" and did not need to be rotated. ProCare also conducted a preventative maintenance inspection.

The plaintiffs contended that the ________ Ford Explorer was defective in design due to inherent instability, handling and skate. The plaintiffs further contended that the defendant Uniroyal Tire defectively manufactured the tire on the Ford Explorer. Finally, the plaintiffs alleged that the co-defendant ProCare Automotive conducted a negligent tire inspection one- month prior to the accident.

The plaintiffs presented evidence which revealed that two videotaped experiments on ________ Ford Explorers simulating tire tread delamination allegedly showed the vehicle skating and the professional drivers losing control of the vehicle. The plaintiffs contended that internal Ford documents from both before and after the manufacture of the subject ________ Ford Explorer recognized skate as a defect. These documents further revealed that Ford was aware of a safer alternative in the suspension design involving moving the shocks out towards the wheels and stiffening the shocks in order to eliminate skate. Post-sale Ford documents from foreign countries allegedly recognized a skate defect with the Ford Explorer and Ford instituted a recall to implement the safer alternative design in Australia, Venezuela, Brazil and Saudi Arabia, but not in the U.S. This recall involved moving the shocks out-board towards the wheels and strengthening the brackets holding the shocks.

The plaintiffs presented medical specials including $________ for the plaintiff James W., $________ in past expenses for plaintiff Kenneth C.W. as well as $________ per year in projected future medical expenses. The decedent’s burial expenses totaled $________.

The defense contended that none of the products were defective and that ProCare was not negligent. The defendants maintained that in fact, it was the negligence of the plaintiff husband which caused the rollover and the defendants made a claim of comparative negligence against this plaintiff. The defendants finally contended that the decedent’s failure to wear her available seat belt was the cause of her ejectment and subsequent death.

The trial lasted over five weeks and the jury returned a 5-1 verdict for the plaintiffs against Ford Motor Company, finding that the Ford Explorer was defectively designed. They further found in favor of ProCare and Michelin North America, Inc., finding that ProCare was not at fault and that Michelin did not make an unreasonably dangerous tire. While the jury found that the Explorer had a handling and stability design defect, the jury further found that the side window glass was not defectively designed. The jury found that the plaintiff husband’s negligent driving was a contributing cause of the accident and that the decedent’s failure to wear her seatbelt was a cause of her injuries and death. After reduction for the comparative negligence of the plaintiff and decedent, the net award totaled $________ including prejudgment interest.

To read the full article, please login to your account or purchase

5 ways to win with JVRA

JVRA gives you jurisdiction-specific, year-round insight into the strategies, arguments and tactics that win. Successful attorneys come to the table prepared and use JVRA to:

  1. Determine if a case is winnable and recovery amounts.
  2. Determine reasonable demand for a case early on.
  3. Support a settlement demand by establishing precedent.
  4. Research trial strategies, tactics and arguments.
  5. Defeat or support post-trial motions through past case histories.

Try JVRA for a day or a month, or sign up for our deluxe Litigation Support Plan and put the intelligence of JVRA to work for all of your clients. See our subscription plans.