Jury awards man $4.8 million in damages in Ford Explorer defect case

By Takesha Thomas | Sep 17, 2018

MCALLEN – Ford Motor Co. will now have to pay $4.8 million damages to a Hidalgo County man whose arm was amputated in a rollover accident involving one of the company's vehicles.

The Aug. 29 decision in the McAllen Division of the Southern District of Texas found that Ford was 90 percent responsible for the accident involving the 1999 Ford Explorer that Jose Leos-Ortiz was driving. The accident was found to be a result of a design defect in the vehicle. 

The jurors awarded Leos-Ortiz $3.3 million for past damages and $1.5 million for future damages for a total of $4.8 million. The money was awarded for physical pain and mental anguish, loss of earnings, physical disfigurement, physical impairment and medical care expenses. 

According to the ruling, the 1999 Ford Explorer was found to have a design defect in the vehicle's glass windows. The jury agreed with attorneys for Leos-Ortiz who argued that there was a safer alternative design that was economically and technologically feasible.

Leos-Ortiz was involved in a one-vehicle accident in June 2009 while operating a 1999 Ford Explorer on West Expressway 83 in Mission. According to published reports, Leos-Ortiz’s attorney told jurors that if Ford had installed laminated glass, rather than cheaper tempered class, then the Explorer’s window wouldn’t have shattered on impact and led to injuries that caused the amputation of Leos-Ortiz's arm. At the time of the accident, Leos-Ortiz was reportedly twice the legal limit of intoxication, but the jury's ruling only found him 10 percent responsible.

Leos-Ortiz filed his petition in the case in June 2011. Attorneys argued that Ford Motor Co. was negligent and displayed, "conscious disregard of safety, its placement of profits over safety, and its failure to implement appropriate safety, stability and occupant protection provisions, including stability design, laminated glass at all driver/occupant seating locations, and the failure and refusal to properly warn of the risks associated with the use of the 1999 Ford Explorer," according to Leo-Ortiz's first amended complaint, which was filed April 2015.

Attorneys for Leos-Ortiz had sought more than $1 million in damages in the initial filing. 

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Ford Motor Company U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas McAllen Division

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