The Chicago Personal Injury Law Blog

$43 Million Product Liability Lawsuit Against Ford Motor Reversed

A $43 million Ford lawsuit has been reversed by the Illinois Supreme Court.

In 2003, John and Dora Jablonski got into a somewhat routine traffic accident. However, allegedly due to the design of their car, the car blew up killing John Jablonski and seriously disfiguring his wife.

But despite the defect, the high court of Illinois said that Ford Motor Co. did not have to pay, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. Why?

The Jablonskis were headed home to Missouri in their 1993 Lincoln Town Car when they were rear-ended near Granite City. The impact of the collision caused a pipe wrench in the couple's car trunk to pierce the car's gas tank.

As a result, the car caught fire killing the husband and disfiguring the wife, reports the Sun-Times. The attorney for the victims contended that the automobile was improperly designed and that the placement of the fuel tank behind the rear axle of the vehicle caused the fire.

The attorney claimed that Ford should have warned owners of this potential hazard and retrofitted the vehicles with safety devices. An Illinois court agreed.

However, reversing the lower court, the Illinois Supreme Court said that Ford is not required to warn of defects not detected before the product left the manufacturer.

So while companies may be held responsible for a design defect in a products liability claim, the court here appears to have allowed the company to defend itself on the basis of an unknown danger.

It was not reported what factors the court considered, but it's likely that the court looked at the foreseeability of a similar accident and how careful the company was in looking for possible dangers with the fuel tank placement in dismissing John Jablonski's $43 million Ford lawsuit.

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