— A West Virginia couple has won a $3 million jury verdict against Ford Motor Co. after Ford was found guilty of manufacturing a 2001 Ford Ranger with a defective accelerator assembly. The 2013 lawsuit, filed by Howard Nease in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, accuses Ford of manufacturing the truck with a defective speed control cable inside the accelerator assembly that can cause the throttle to stick open.
The lawsuit alleges Mr. Nease was traveling 45-50 mph in his 2001 Ford Ranger when he tried to slow down due to traffic ahead. Nease removed his foot from the accelerator pedal but the Ford Ranger didn't slow down. Nease then moved his right foot to the brake pedal, but despite using all his strength to apply the brakes, the Ranger kept going.
To avoid hitting vehicles in front of him, Nease steered the truck off the highway which caused the truck to jump the curb. The Ranger traveled across an open area before jumping another curb and going through the bay of a car wash. The truck shot through the bay and slammed into a brick building.
The lawsuit says even though the truck was smashed into the building, the engine kept running at full throttle with the rear tires burning rubber until the engine finally died.
Even though Nease was found in his seat wearing a seat belt, his injuries caused him to spend almost three months in the hospital.
Ford said there was never anything wrong with the truck and the accident occurred because the 74-year-old Nease hit the gas pedal instead of the brake pedal. The jury didn't exactly see things that way.
Although Ford was found innocent on claims of negligence and breach of implied warranty, the jury found the automaker guilty on the claim of strict liability.
Ford stopped using the accelerator assembly that was used in the 2001 Ford Ranger, but there are still older vehicles on the roads that have the same assembly.