Georgia jury awards $1.7 billion in Ford truck crash case

Georgia jury awards $1.7 billion in Ford truck crash case

Georgia jury awards $1.7 billion in Ford truck crash case

A Georgia jury has returned a $1.7 billion verdict against Ford Motor Co. involving a pickup truck crash that claimed the lives of a Georgia couple, their lawyers confirmed.

Jurors in Gwinnett County, just northeast of Atlanta, returned the verdict two weeks ago in the yearslong civil case involving what the plaintiffs’ lawyers called dangerously defective roofs on Ford pickup trucks, lawyer James Butler Jr. said on Aug. 21.

Melvin and Voncile Hill were killed in April 2014 in the rollover wreck of their 2002 Ford F-250. Their children Kim and Adam Hill were the plaintiffs in the wrongful death case.

“I used to buy Ford trucks,’’ Butler said on Aug. 21. “I thought nobody would sell a truck with a roof this weak. The damn thing is useless in a wreck. You might as well drive a convertible.”

The Michigan-based automaker sought to defend the company against accusations “that Ford and its engineers acted willfully and wantonly, with a conscious indifference for the safety of the people who ride in their cars when they made these decisions about roof strength,’’ defense lawyer William Withrow Jr. said in his closing arguments, according to a court transcript.

Ford plans to appeal the verdict against, a company representative said on Aug. 21.

“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,” Ford said in a statement to The Associated Press on Sunday.