Georgia siblings, Adam and Kim Hill, have been awarded $1.7billion in punitive damages from Ford for a 2014 car crash that killed their parents, Voncile Hill and Melvin.
Melvin and Voncile Hill were killed in April 2014 in the rollover wreck of their 2002 Ford F-250.
The couple – aged 62 and 74 – were on their way to pick up a new tractor part to be used on their farm in Georgia.
A jury this week ruled that they should have survived the crash and would have had the roof of their F-250 been designed properly. Instead, it crunched under the impact of the roll and the pair later died of injuries.
Their children Kim and Adam Hill were the plaintiffs in the wrongful death case.
According to dailymail.co.uk, the couple’s adult children Adam and Kim, both in their fifties, sued Ford and Pep Boys, the auto shop that fitted the vehicle’s tires four years before the crash.
Ford sold 5.2 million “Super Duty” trucks with weak roofs that would crush people inside during rollovers, the jury determined. The flaw was present in all “Super Duty” models between 1999 and 2016, their lawyer, James E. Butler said.
Attorneys showed evidence at the trial of nearly 80 similar wrecks where people had been killed or injured when the trucks’ roofs crushed them during rollovers.
Ford has refused to say how many similar incidents it is aware of. Nor has the car giant ever issued a recall, Butler said.
The suit also targeted Pep Boys for installing the wrong size tires on the truck, causing the blowout.
They were first awarded $24million in compensatory damages, of which Ford is liable for 70 percent $16.8million) and Pep Boys, the autoshop, is liable for 30 percent ($7.2milion).
The jury then awarded the family $1.7billion in punitive damages, which are reflective not of compensation for the family but of the amount the jury feels is sufficient to punish Ford and deter it from making the same mistake in future.
Under Georgia law, the state is given 75 percent of the $1.7billion, leaving $425million for the Hill family to claim. In total, the family now stands to gain $450million from the car manufacturer.
Ford, which is worth $60billion, says it will appeal the decision.