Ford Roof Lawsuit: Lawyers Want $600 Million in Fees and Expenses

Jury reaches $1.7 billion verdict against Ford over deaths of two Georgia residents in a 2002 F-250.

Ford Roof Lawsuit: Lawyers Want $600 Million in Fees and Expenses

Posted in News

— A Ford roof lawsuit saw a jury award $1.7 billion to the sons of Melvin and Voncile Hill who were killed in a Georgia rollover crash of a 2002 Ford F-250 Super Duty truck.

Now the lawyers who represent the family are seeking $549 million in fees and another $528,684 in expenses for their part in the case.

The 2014 fatal crash in Sumter County Georgia occurred when a tire blew out on the 2002 Ford F-250 occupied by 74-year-old Melvin Hill and his wife Voncile Hill, 62.

The wrongful death lawsuit was filed by two sons of the couple killed in the 2002 Ford F-250 rollover crash.

According to court documents, the crash occurred because the wrong size tire was installed on the Ford F-250 Super Duty by a Pep Boys service center.

Even though it was Pep Boys which allegedly installed the wrong size tires on the truck that caused the blowout, the Gwinnett County jury ruled Pep Boys would pay only 30% of damages while Ford would cover 70%.

The plaintiffs claim people have been injured or killed by crushed Ford truck roofs in about 80 rollover crashes out of about 5.2 million Super Duty trucks.

The jury, apparently assuming the role of federal safety regulators, said more than 5 million model year 1999-2016 Ford Super Duty trucks were sold with weak and defective roofs.

At trial, Ford said the tire blowout caused the F-250 to roll over two-and-a-half times, landing on its roof. According to Ford, the roof was strong enough to handle most rollover crashes, but the Hill crash was a violent two-and-a-half times rollover caused by a sudden blown tire.

Experts called by Ford said the F-250 roof slammed into the ground three times while rolling up a hill.

However, the plaintiffs argued the rollover wasn't severe and the roof crushed onto the occupants because its design was too weak for the truck's weight.

While the Hill's lawyers seek $600 million for fees and expenses, Ford says it plans on appealing the $1.7 billion verdict because the automaker argues it did nothing to act willfully indifferent to safety when the automaker designed the Super Duty roofs which met industry standards.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, roof-crush standards did not apply to 2002 F-250 Super Duty trucks, and the government didn't test the trucks because the standards didn't apply at the time.

Ford says the fatalities were caused because the tire that blew out had the wrong load-carrying capacity, sending the truck into a multiple rollover incident. Lawyers for Ford also allege the two occupants didn't properly use their seat belts.

Ford further argues there have been no safety recalls or federal actions related to the roofs of 1999-2016 Super Duty trucks.

In addition, Ford notes federal safety regulators required automakers to begin using stronger roofs in 2012 but manufacturers had until 2017 to meet the new standards.

The Ford roof lawsuit was filed in the State Court of Gwinnett County Georgia: Hill v. Ford Motor Company., case number 16-C-04179-S2.

The plaintiffs are represented by Butler Prather LLP, Mahaffey Pickens Tucker LLP, Walker, Hulbert, Gray & Moore, LLP, and Bondurant Mixson & Elmore.

Weeks after the $1.7 billion Ford roof lawsuit verdict was announced, Ford was hit by a class action lawsuit over Super Duty roofs.