MIAMI (September 20, 2001) — The Law Firm of Colson Hicks Eidson today announced that a Florida State Court jury before the 11thJudicial Circuit Court awarded Ramon and Maria Jimenez, on behalf of their young daughter Phoebe, a $ 30.7 million verdict, reduced by 50% comparative negligence for not wearing a seat belt, against the Ford Motor Company. The jury found Ford liable for improperly installing the air valve on the right-rear tire of 1999 Ford Econoline 15-passenger van, which rolled over on top of Phoebe condemning her to a life sentence in an almost complete vegetative state.
“She is in an almost complete vegetative state and the worst part is she is aware of her condition,” said Colson Hicks Eidson partner Mike Eidson, who tried the case along with Gonzalo Dorta, with Gonzalo Dorta, P.A.
In May of 1999, Ramon Jimenez rented a brand-new Ford Econoline 15-passenger van to drive his family to Walt Disney World in Orlando to celebrate Phoebe’s tenth birthday. While the family approached their destination, the right-rear tire failed on the Ford van as a result of a tire valve defect and the van’s inherent instability. The tire’s valve was torn, allowing air to leak out of the tire. The tire was driven low on air causing the tire to overheat and explode. The driver lost control due to the instability of the 15-passenger van, and the van rolled over one-and-a-half times—landing on Phoebe, causing her to suffer a severe injury to the brain.
“The Jimenez family has been irreparably changed as a result of something that could have been and should have been prevented,” added Eidson, who is also Co-Lead Counsel for the plaintiffs in the national class action against Ford and Firestone now pending in Indianapolis, Indiana.
“In addition to the problems with the defective valve and vehicle design, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently issued a report that said that these vans are three times more likely to roll over when there are more than 10 people in them,” said Eidson. “Accordingly, NHTSA recommended special training to drive the vans. Our van had 12 people in it and there was no advice of a need for special training to drive it. Ford never told anyone and now the Jimenez family has to pay the consequences for Ford’s neglect.”