Treating physician paid $12k to testify at product liability trial against Ford

By David Yates | Oct 27, 2010

Jefferson County jurors in a product liability case against Ford Motor Co. recently heard testimony from the plaintiff's treating physician, who was paid around $12,000 to offer his opinion.

Plaintiff Kenneth Holmes filed a product liability suit against Ford in October 2004, alleging his 1995 Ranger was defective and dangerous.

Court records show that on March 4, 2003, Holmes and former defendant Guillermo Cardona were involved in a motor vehicle collision. He alleged a design flaw in his Ranger caused him to suffer a head injury.

On Tuesday Holmes' treating physician, Dr. R. Lilly testified that the collision has caused a "significant impact" on his health, most likely impairing him the rest of his life.

However, during cross examination Dr. Lilly admitted Holmes did not seek treatment from him after the crash and no physician referred him to his Houston office.

In fact, Dr. Lilly testified that for the last 15 years, attorney Paul Ferguson Jr. and the Provost Umphrey law firm have routinely directed clients into his office and then paid him to testify about their medical condition.

He said he was paid around $12,000 to testify during the Holmes vs. Ford trial.

In his suit, Holmes also named his insurance company, State Farm Mutual Auto, as a defendant, claiming Cardona caused the collision and State Farm refused to pay proceeds for underinsured motorists.

State Farm was non-suited by Holmes on Jan. 18, 2005.

Holmes alleges the suit's remaining defendant, Ford, contributed to the collision by designing, constructing, marketing and placing its 1995 Ranger into the stream of commerce with a design flaw.

"Holmes would show the (Ranger) he was operating at the time of the collision was defective and unreasonably dangerous ... and contributed to the injuries sustained in the collision," the suit states.

Holmes is asking jurors to award him damages for his alleged mental anguish, medical expenses and lost wages.

His wife Helen is seeking loss of consortium damages.

Ford is represented by Sugarland attorney Deborah Bullion of Gascoyne & Bullion.

Case No. D173-482

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