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Montana man wins product liability case against Ford

A Montana man who was left paralyzed and mentally impaired after an auto accident recently won a product liability lawsuit against Ford Motor Company.

The case has been ongoing since 2003. That year, the now-disabled man was driving north on Highway 228 during Labor Day weekend. As he drove, the tires on his 1989 Ford Bronco II blew out. The man lost control of his truck, and it swerved off the road. The Bronco rolled and then ejected the man, causing serious injuries, including permanent paralysis and mental impairment.

In 2006, he sued Ford Motor Company, Firestone tires and Pete's Auto of Great Falls. The injured man claimed that the accident happened because the tread belt on the Bronco's left rear tire separated. Firestone had manufactured the tire specifically for the Bronco II.

Later, Pete's Auto and Firestone settled out of court, leaving Ford as the sole defendant.

According to the lawsuit, Ford was aware that the tire was faulty and that the separation of the tread belt was likely to occur. The lawsuit claimed that Ford declined to act on that information. Predictably, Ford disagreed, arguing that the Montana man's tires failed because of their age and condition. Specifically, Ford claimed the tires were punctured, under-inflated and had damage to the bead and steel belt. But a Cascade County jury voted 11-1 that defects in the Firestone tires were a factor in the crash.

Just like this man, Billings residents who have been injured by faulty products may have grounds for a civil claim under product liability law. Serious personal injuries are painful and life-altering enough, and victims of defective products should not have to shoulder all of the financial burdens that come with such injuries.

Source: Great Falls Tribune, "Settlement reached in faulty tire civil case," David Murray, May 4, 2012

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