Seeking fault where no one's to blame

By The SE Texas Record | Mar 5, 2010

Linda McCabe's Ford Explorer rolled over after her left rear tire hit an 8-inch piece of 4x4 on Interstate 10 and blew out. She was severely injured and subsequently died.

Would she have survived if she'd been wearing her seatbelt? It's impossible to say.

What we do know is that anyone who runs over a 4x4 going upwards of 55 miles per hour is courting disaster.

It wasn't Mrs. McCabe's fault that someone dropped a large chunk of wood on the interstate. But neither was it the fault of the car's manufacturer. Excluding monster trucks, no vehicle should be expected to run over obstacles of that size at high rates of speed without catastrophic results.

Last June, Lonnie McCabe filed a product liability suit against Ford Motor Co. in the 172nd Judicial District Court of Jefferson County. Mr. McCabe alleges that the vehicle was defective, unreasonably dangerous, and prone to roll over -- and that Ford was negligent in the design, manufacture, and marketing of the Explorer.

He is represented by Paul F. Ferguson Jr. of the Provost Umphrey Law Firm. Provost Umphrey, as The Southeast Texas Record reported last summer, was one of several firms pocketing $25 million of a $27 million settlement in a class-action suit against the Ford Motor Co. relating to the Explorer's alleged propensity for rolling over. Provost Umphrey alone secured roughly $1 million – more than all of the alleged victims combined.

Lonnie McCabe's reasoning may be clouded by sorrow for the senseless loss of his loved one. But surely the lawyers at Provost Umphrey are not overcome by emotion. One has to wonder what compels filing a suit seeking monetary relief for an accident that appeared unavoidable.

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