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Ford Faces Trial This Week Over Claim Defective Roof Design Killed 2 People in Truck Rollover Crash

Posted by Arlin Crisco on Mar 20, 2018 3:51:13 PM

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Lawrenceville, GA—Jury selection is underway at trial against Ford Motor Co. for the role it may have played in the April 2014 rollover crash deaths of a Georgia couple. Hill v. Ford Motor Co., 16-C-04179-S2.

Melvin and Voncile Hill were killed after a tire on their 2002 Ford Super Duty F-250 Crew Cab pickup truck allegedly separated on SR 49 in Americus, Georgia, causing it to roll over and crush the roof.

Butler Wooten’s James Butler, representing the Hills’ children, contends Ford knew the roof was dangerously weak for the truck’s weight.

According to the complaint filed in the case, Ford knew the roof's design did not meet its own target strength numbers after computer testing. Yet, in an effort to reduce production costs, the company altered the design, which further weakened the roofs of its 1999-2007 models.

The Hills' rollover crash was caused when the wrong tire installed at a Georgia Pep Boys service center separated, according to the complaint. While the Hills have resolved their claim against Pep Boys and the company is not a defendant at trial, any part it played in the Hills’ deaths is expected to factor into the case.

In his last CVN-webcast trial, Butler won a $150 million jury verdict against Chrysler for a Jeep fuel tank explosion that killed four-year old Remington Walden. That award was ultimately reduced to $40 million after the verdict, and the judgment against Chrysler was upheld by the Georgia Supreme Court last week.

Ford’s legal team includes Huie’s D. Alan Thomas, Dentons’ J. Randolph Evans, and Huff Powell Bailey’s Michael Boorman. Boorman has represented Ford against Butler in CVN-covered trials twice before, most recently in 2013’s Hatfield v. Ford Motor Co., a wrongful death roof crush case that settled after closing arguments.    

CVN will stream the trial live and on demand beginning with opening statements, which are expected to begin on Thursday. CVN will also provide ongoing updates via its news page.

CVN Essentials annual subscribers can watch the trial live for free.

Email Arlin Crisco at acrisco@cvn.com.

Related Information

Learn how you can watch the trial, live, for free.

Topics: Hill v. Ford Motor Co., Georgia, Products Liability