Plaintiff asks Judge Floyd for new trial in Bronco blow out case

David Yates Feb. 17, 2010, 9:59am

In April 2009, a Jefferson County jury found no negligence on the part of Calvin Ford for indirectly selling a Ford Bronco to Eric Carlsen, who died in a wreck when the wheels came off his newly purchased sport utility vehicle.

Now almost a year later, Carlsen's family is asking Judge Donald Floyd to grant them a new trial, arguing that the jury's verdict "is against the great weight and preponderance of the evidence."

On behalf of Donna Carlsen, plaintiff's attorney Timothy Ferguson filed the motion for new trial Feb. 9. A hearing on the matter has been slated for Feb. 19.

Originally, the case of Donna Carlsen et al vs. Calvin Ford came to a close April 29, after a four-week trial in Judge Floyd's 172nd District Court.

At the request of Calvin Ford, jurors were asked to decide if five other entities, who had serviced the Ford Bronco or its tires, were also negligent in causing the death of Eric Carlsen.

The jury found no negligence by any of the six listed entities, leaving the plaintiffs empty handed.

Eight months later, Judge Floyd signed a final judgment, ordering that the Carlsen take nothing "and that defendant recover court costs from the plaintiffs."

But in his motion for a new trial, Ferguson argues that the jury's "finding is erroneous because the undisputed cause of the wheel coming off the Bronco was due to the 'negligence' of somebody's failure to tighten the lug nuts."

"All experts and witnesses agreed that the wheel backing off the Bronco does not happen absent negligence," the motion states. "Calving Ford was negligent by failing to re-check and re-tighten the lug nuts after having the Bronco in their possession for more than 50 miles."

During the trial, Calvin Ford had apparently offered the Carlsen family a $1.5 million settlement.

Case background

According to testimony and court documents, Eric Carlsen bought a pre-owned 1994 Ford Bronco from Keating Motors in Winnie four years ago. Only two months later, one of the tires broke off the Bronco while Carlsen was driving on State Highway 73.

He was killed when the vehicle wrecked.

In early 2007, Donna Carlsen filed the suit individually and on behalf of her two minor children in Jefferson County District Court, naming as defendants Kolander Corp. doing business as Calvin Ford, Jackie Baxter Tire Co. and Keating Motors. Raiford Motors and Pro-Logic Inc. were later added to the suit.

Jackie Baxter, Keating, Raiford and Pro-Logic reached settlements with Carlsen.

The trial centered on the suit's remaining defendant, Calvin Ford.

Calvin Ford was represented in part by attorney Amanda Hilty of the Bair Hilty law firm in Houston.

Jurors were asked to discern if any negligence on the defendants' or Eric Carlsen's part were the cause of the incident, but they returned a "no negligence" verdict for all six parties intertwined in the suit.

Even though Calvin Ford was the only defendant to go to trial after the other four settled, jurors declared none of the defendants were negligent, according to a court official.

According to, the 1994 Bronco was recalled in May 2001 for faulty tires.

However, prior to Carlsen's purchase of the vehicle, court papers show that Calvin Ford accepted the Bronco as a trade in, and then hired Baxter Tire to install new tires.

Soon after, Calvin Ford transferred the Bronco to Keating Motors, which then sold the vehicle to Carlsen on Oct. 30, 2006.

The plaintiffs alleged the defendants negligently installed the tires and failed to properly inspect the vehicle.

They asked jurors to award them damages for Carlsen's past and future lost wages, mental anguish and loss of love damages.

Trial case No. E179-260

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