Ford Victorious in Product Liability Suit
The Ford Motor Company was recently dealt a major victory in a recent products liability lawsuit. In the case, the Virginia Supreme Court granted an important motion in limine that will prevent the plaintiff from presenting evidence deemed “critical” to their case.
The case arose from the tragic May 2006 death of three-year-old Emily Funkhouser. The child was playing in her family’s 1999 Ford Windstar when a fire broke out in the passenger compartment. Funkhouser experienced serious burns, and died of her injuries the same day. According to court records, the van was not on, nor were the keys in the ignition when the fire broke out.
In 2007, Funkhouser’s estate filed a wrongful death suit against Ford, which alleged, “A design defect in a particular electrical connector behind the dashboard of the Ford Windstar van caused it to ignite.” Funkhouser’s estate took a voluntary nonsuit when the court granted Ford a motion in limine which would have excluded evidence of seven other fires in the same Ford model. Which, you’d have to believe would give them reason to know about the risk to other families, and prevented the death of a three-year-old.
Funkhouser’s estate filed another wrongful death action against Ford in 2010. The second lawsuit alleged that Ford was negligent and breached an implied warranty. The recently granted motion in limine excludes the same evidence as was excluded in 2007.
In order to prevail in a products liability lawsuit in Oklahoma, a plaintiff must prove three things: (1) the product in question was the cause of the injury, (2) some sort of defect existed in the product, and (3) the defect made the product unreasonably dangerous.