Stimpson v. Ford: Judge Orders New Trial Based on Ford’s Misconduct at Trial

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A circuit court judge in Florida recently set aside a jury verdict in favor of Ford Motor Co., finding that Ford’s misconduct had amounted to “a “fundamental error” that deprived plaintiffs of a fair trial and justified a new trial. The lawsuit alleged that plaintiffs’ Aerostar van suddenly accelerated during gear engagement and traveled more than 100 feet before hitting a utility pole, causing disabling injuries to plaintiff Peggy Stimpson. Plaintiffs asserted liability by Ford based on strict liability, negligence and punitive damages for fraudulent concealment of a defect. Ford denied the allegations and, following a four-week trial, the jury returned a verdict in Ford’s favor.

Plaintiffs appealed the decision, arguing requesting that the court vacate the judgment and order a new trial. At the heart of the plaintiffs’ appeal was whether or not Ford had repeatedly used fraudulent tactics to conceal the truth about risks associated with electromagnetic interference with the cruise control function of vehicle, which has caused numerous injuries and deaths.

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