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Greg Webb
Greg Webb
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California Appellate Court Refuses to Change Its Ruling Against Ford

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A California state appellate court stood by its earlier ruling, instructing Ford Motor Co. to award $82.6 million in damages to Benetta Buell-Wilson claiming faulty design caused her wreck, even after the Supreme Court asked them to reconsider. The three appellate justices said the case used by the Supreme Court for precedent did not contain anything that warranted a change in their judgment. They also stated the decision should not be reversed because Ford’s proposed jury instructions on third-party harm were an incorrect statement of the law, Ford failed to timely object to Buell-Wilson’s closing arguments regarding punitive damages, Ford failed to request a limiting instruction during the trial’s liability phase, and Ford did not raise any instructional errors on appeal. The case at hand involved Ford’s problematic Explorer, which has been known to be prone to rollover. Buell-Wilson was injured when her Explorer fishtailed as she was trying to avoid a metal object in the road. Her lawyers argued Ford had known about these design defects and refused to act. The jurors agreed and hit Ford with heavy damages, a sum that was ultimately reduced down to $82.6 million. Ford’s lawyers claim the appellate court’s order was directly against the Supreme Court’s mandate.