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Siblings awarded $1.7 billion from Ford after car crash killed their parents

Siblings awarded $1.7 billion from Ford after car crash killed their parents

Melvin and Voncile Hill died after their 2002 Ford F-250 blew a tyre and rolled over

Two siblings have been awarded $1.7 billion (£1.4bn) in punitive damages from Ford after their parents were killed in a car crash. 

Melvin and Voncile Hill were on their way to pick up a new tractor for their farm in April 2014 when their 2002 Ford F-250 blew a tyre and rolled over. 

The couple, aged 74 and 62 respectively, later died from their injuries, having been crushed under the roof. 

Their children, Adam and Kim, went on to sue both Ford and auto shop Pep Boys - which fitted the vehicles tyres four years before the crash – arguing in the wrongful death case that dangerously defective roofs on the the automobile manufacturer’s pickup trucks had been responsible for the tragic death. 

Melvin and Voncile Hill on their wedding day.
Butler Prather LLP

Last Friday (19 August), a jury in Gwinnett County, Georgia, ruled that Melvin and Voncile should have survived the crash if the roof had been properly designed, imposing $1.7bn in punitive damages against Ford. 

The day before, the jury had also awarded the Hill family $24 million in compensatory damages from Ford and Pep Boys, according to a press release from lawyers Butler Prather LLP. 

The firm said 30 percent ($7.2m) of the blame for the incident was allocated to Pep Boys, which had ‘mistakenly installed the wrong size, or 'load range' tires on the Hills' truck in 2010’. 

Their 2002 Ford F-250 blew a tyre and rolled over.
Butler Prather LLP

"That mistake caused the right front tire to blow out, causing the wreck," the press release explained. 

However, evidence 'showed the wreck was survivable, and the crushing of the roof caused the injuries that led to the deaths of Mr. and Mrs. Hill’. 

Butler Prather LLP submitted evidence of almost 80 similar rollover car crashes, which had involved crushed truck roofs injuring or killing motorists. 

“An award of punitive damages to hopefully warn people riding around in the millions of those trucks Ford sold was the reason the Hill family insisted on a verdict,” the law firm said. 

The couple sadly died from their injuries.
Butler Prather LLP

Butler's co-counsel added: “More deaths and severe injuries are certain because millions of these trucks are on the road."

Under Georgia law, the state is handed 75 percent of the $1.7bn amount, which leaves $425m for the Hill family to claim – taking the total figure that the family stands to gain from Ford to $450m. 

Ford, which is worth $60 billion, has since said it will appeal the decision. 

The company said in a statement on Sunday: “While our sympathies go out to the Hill family, we do not believe the verdict is supported by the evidence, and we plan to appeal." 

If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence, contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677 

Featured Image Credit: Butler Prather LLP

Topics: US News, Cars