InjuryBoard Member - Cusimano, Keener, Roberts & Raley, P.C.
An Alabama woman was awarded an $8.5 million judgment by an Etowah County Circuit Court jury last week in an SUV product liability case.
Latoya Duckett, 22, was a passenger in the Mercury Mountaineer that suddenly veered to the left to avoid another vehicle, lost control and rolled over four-and-a-half times. The SUV ultimately came to rest upside down in oncoming traffic.
The month-long trial, which began September 14, concerned a 2005 lawsuit filed against Ford Motor Company over a rollover crash which occurred in 2003. The accident killed two people and injured two others, including Duckett.
Willie Gary of the law firm Gary, Williams, Finney, Lewis, Watson & Sperando, Joel Rosen of Pennsylvania and Jason Knowles of Cusimano, Keener, Roberts, Knowles & Raley argued that Ford Motor Co. negligently designed, manufactured, produced and distributed the Mercury Mountaineer, which caused the accident.
The trial team argued that the Mountaineer involved in the accident was defective and dangerous and failed to possess sufficient stability to prevent it from rolling over onto its side and roof during anticipated traffic maneuvers. The company was aware of this defect but refused to make the necessary corrections.
As a result of the accident, Duckett sustained significant injuries. Her right leg was amputated just below the knee and her left arm is paralyzed. She also suffered some brain damage, but according to Knowles, she stilll earned a master's degree.
"Ford Motor Company took a calculated risk by manufacturing defective vehicles," commented Willie Gary. "As a result of their negligence, our client suffered loss of her right leg. No amount of money will ever be able to replace her leg or her quality of life. “We hope that this verdict will send a message to all manufacturers to cure or recall vehicles with known defects that can destroy the life and health of our citizens,” Knowles said.
This was the largest verdict in Etowah County history and broke the $5 million verdict set by Greg Cusimano and Mike Roberts of the same Gadsden law firm in 1985. #