On April 19, a jury decided in favor of Ford Motor Co. in a lawsuit filed against the company for alleged defects in its SUVs. The plaintiffs had claimed that these defects in the particular model of SUV directly contributed to the injuries an 11-year-old girl received during a rollover accident near Lancaster, CA. The 2006 accident left the child a quadriplegic.
The jury held deliberation for six hours between Thursday and Monday before announcing its decision. The jury rejected the claims of David and Alicia Vela Cambron. The Cambrons had filed the suit on behalf of their daughter, Priscilla Cambron.
The accident occurred around 5 p.m. on February 23, 2006. Alicia Cambron was traveling east when she swerved in an attempt to avoid a collision that crossed the centerline of the road. She initially swerved to the right, then attempted to get back onto the road. The SUV rolled, crushing the roof and severing Priscilla’s spinal cord. It is important to note that Priscilla, as most safety advocates recommend for young children, was properly secured in the back seat of the car.
Defense attorney Bradley W. Peterson described the crash as a tragic accident, but insisted on his client’s innocence in the matter. He says he is “very pleased” with the verdict. The Ford defense team maintained that it was the actions and errors made by Priscilla’s mother that caused the crash, and that no flaw in the 2002 Explorer SUV had anything to do with the wreck.
Ian Herzog, the attorney who represented the Cambrons, informed the jury that both the accident and attendant injuries could have been averted if Ford’s Electronic Stability Control System had been installed on the vehicle. Additionally, the vehicle could have been designed with a wider axle track and lower center of gravity to impart greater stability.
Ford attorneys stressed that Alicia Cambron should have reacted differently, maintaining her presence in the right and slowing down instead of trying to get back onto the road.