Suit blames death on truck's dangerous design

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Jan. 19, 2010, 6:50am


MARSHALL – During a rollover accident in June 2009, the driver-side roof of a Ford F-350 collapsed and crushed the driver causing fatal injuries.

Believing a different design of the truck would have saved his son's life, Paul Bennett, individually and as representative of the estate of Christopher Thomas Bennett, filed a wrongful death suit against Ford Motor Co. on Jan. 12, in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

Texas Department of Public Safety officials reported that Bennett over-corrected his Ford F-350 when he veered off the road, causing the truck to enter a rollover.

The father argues that there were safer alternative designs that were economically and technologically feasible that could have prevented or significantly reduced the risk of injury or death of his son.

Bennett alleges the vehicle was "not crash worthy and not reasonably fit for clearly foreseeable accidents."

He argues that the truck was unreasonably dangerous because the truck's restraint system failed to properly maintain occupant position during rollovers and the roof and driver protection zone could be crushed to a dangerous level.

Further, the plaintiff claims Ford failed to warn of the vehicle's risks and that the truck did not contain adequate instructions or warnings regarding the risks associated with the "dangerous propensity to allow the roof and driver protection zone to crush to a dangerous level."

Bennett states that Ford will be unable to argue that the truck complied with the mandatory standards adopted by the Department of Transportation and claims he will present evidence that the standard is inadequate to protect from unreasonable risks of injury.

The plaintiff argues that the defendant had a duty to manufacture, distribute, and sell vehicles that are not unreasonably dangerous but negligently and gross negligently breached that duty.

On behalf of his son, Bennett is seeking damages for conscious pain and suffering, mental anguish, medical bills, funeral and burial expenses. As the statutory wrongful death beneficiary, Bennett is seeking damages for past and future pecuniary loss, loss of companionship and society, mental anguish, loss of inheritances, loss of consortium, loss of services and pre- and post-judgment interest.

Dallas attorney Andrew L. Payne of the Payne Mitchell Law Group and Sulphur Springs attorney Ralph E. Northcutt of the Law Office of Eddie Northcutt are representing the plaintiff.

U.S. District Judge T. John Ward will preside over the litigation.

Case No 2:10cv00013

More News