Wrongful death trial over Bronco blow out ends with multiple no negligence verdicts

By David Yates | May 6, 2009

Five defendants blamed for selling a Ford Bronco or its tires have each been found to be not negligent in causing the death of Eric Carlsen, a Jefferson County jury decided recently.

Donna Carlsen et al vs. Calvin Ford, came to a close Wednesday, April 29, after a four-week trial in Judge Donald Floyd's court.

According to testimony and court documents, Eric Carlsen bought a pre-owned 1994 Ford Bronco from Keating Motors in Winnie three years ago. Only two months later, one of the tires broke off the Bronco while Carlsen was driving on a highway and he was killed when the vehicle wrecked.

Carlsen's surviving wife and children had asked jurors to punish the companies they alleged were responsible for causing his death.

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

The trial, which began April 7 in Judge Donald Floyd's 172nd District Court, centered on the suit's sole 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.

Court documents show that on Dec. 28, 2006, Carlsen was traveling west on Texas Highway 73 when the left rear tire "suddenly and unexpectedly came off the Ford Bronco … causing him to lose control."

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

Tim Ferguson of Beaumont represented the plaintiffs.

Trial case No. E179-260

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