DALLAS COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - A man paralyzed in a crash in 2015 has been awarded $151 million in a lawsuit against Ford Motor Company.
Friday, a Dallas County jury found the defendant, Ford Motor Company, at fault for a rollover crash of a 1998 Ford Explorer that left Travaris “Tre” Smith paralyzed.
In August 2015, Smith was a passenger in the 1998 Explorer traveling through Dallas County. The driver swerved to elude an animal crossing their path and ended up losing control of the vehicle. The vehicle rolled over twice before landing right side up.
It was during the time the vehicle rolled over twice that Smith suffered his life-altering injury. Smith was knocked unconscious and his spine was snapped, leaving him paralyzed.
Smith was represented by Beasley-Allen lawyers LaBarron Boone, Greg Allen and Kendall Dunson as well as Bill Gamble of Gamble, Gamble, Calame and Jones, LLC.
“We represent a 24-year-old young man who cannot be left alone to care for himself in any way,” said Dunson. “This verdict represents justice for Tre and his family. Thanks to a courageous jury he will now be able to access basic necessities within his home and have access to the care he needs.”
According to a release sent by the Beasley-Allen group, the 1998 Ford Explorer was previously at the center of two “historic” safety recalls due to its defective design. The model continuously failed the Consumer Union testing because it was prone to rolling over, and company engineers advised that Ford needed to change the Explorer’s design, but the motor vehicle company refused.
The Beasley-Allen group also said Ford, instead of changing the design, opted to shift from real-world testing to a computer-based option called ADAMS and destroyed the original input and output data obtained through the ADAMS testing, claiming it had no scientific value and was too expensive to maintain.
“We have seen bad conduct before but the egregiousness of Ford’s scheme to mislead the jury was stunning. Ford claimed the ADAMS data that would have proved the safety of this vehicle was destroyed because it had no scientific value and was too expensive to maintain. We provided proof that something as basic as a $100 thumb drive could have easily preserved the data,” said Boone.
At trial, the group said the Plaintiffs explained that Ford, instead of altering the design of the Explorer model, altered less expensive components such as the air pressure and tire sizes.
Smith was awarded $51 million in compensatory damages and $100 million in punitive damages.