Lawrenceville, GA— Trial is expected to open this week against Ford Motor Company over a 2014 rollover crash that killed a Georgia couple, four years after a mistrial in the case led to sanctions against the automaker. Hill v. Ford Motor Co., 16-C-04179.
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.
The Hills’ family contended defective roof design caused the couple’s deaths. However, a 2018 trial in the case ended in mistrial, with Gwinnett County State Court Judge Shawn Bratton later finding Ford willfully violated a court order limiting the testimony of one of its experts.
Judge Bratton ultimately sanctioned Ford over the matter, with an order finding against the automaker on defective design and failure-to-warn claims, among other issues.
Those sanctions now set up a trial largely focused on damages in the case. The Hill family contends they are entitled to compensatory and punitive damages, including damages for the couple’s pain and suffering, according to the August 2022 pretrial order in the case.
Ford maintains its challenge to the sanctions order, and challenges plaintiffs’ damage claims, including the claim for punitives. Ford also contends Melvin Hill and others were comparatively negligent, according to court documents.
The Hill family is represented by Butler Prather’s Jim Butler and Ramsey Prather; Mahaffey Pickens Tucker’s Gerald Davidson, Jr.; Walker, Hulbert, Gray & Moore’s Michael Gray; and Bondurant Mixson & Elmore’s Michael Terry, Frank Lowrey, and Laurie Ann Taylor, according to the case’s pre-trial order.
Ford is represented by Huie, Fernambucq & Stewart’s Paul Malek; Watson Spence’s Michael Boorman and Philip Henderson; Troutman Pepper's William Withrow, Jr.; and Thompson Coe's Michael Eady, according to the pre-trial order.
Trial in the case, before Judge Joseph Iannazzone, is expected to last 2-3 weeks, with openings expected as early as Wednesday.
CVN will stream the trial live and on demand, and provide updates via its news page.
Email Arlin Crisco at email@example.com.
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