A Dallas County jury has awarded $151,791,000 to a Selma, Alabama man who was left paralyzed after a 1998 Ford Explorer rolled over, leaving him paralyzed.
The jury found that Ford Motor Co. failed to meet its own safety guidelines for the Explorer’s rollover resistance requirement and attempted to cover up the defective design. They ruled that Ford must pay Travaris “Tre” Smith $100 million in punitive damages and $51,791,000 in compensatory damages.
One of Smith’s lawyers, Kendall Dunson of Montgomery-based Beasley Allen, said the decision will give him access to home care and assistance.
“We represent a 24-year-old young man who cannot be left alone to care for himself in any way,” Dunson said in a release announcing the decision. “This verdict represents justice for Tre and his family.”
In August 2015, Smith was a passenger in an Explorer when the driver swerved to miss an animal. Instead of sliding out, the vehicle rolled over twice and snapped Smith’s spine. The jury ruled that was because of a flaw in the Explorer’s design.
Smith’s attorneys said engineers at Ford advised the company to change the design, but that it instead changed the testing process and destroyed data from the original testing.
Another of Smith’s attorneys, Beasley Allen’s LaBarron Boone, said the verdict should send a message about destroying safety documents.
“We have seen bad conduct before but the egregiousness of Ford’s scheme to mislead the jury was stunning,” Boone said in a release.
Ford plans to appeal the ruling. "Our sympathy goes out to Travaris Smith and his family," the company said in a statement. "At the same time, we disagree with the jury’s conclusion in this case as well as with a series of rulings by the Alabama court that kept the jury from hearing critical evidence – and will appeal."
This article originally appeared on Montgomery Advertiser: Alabama man awarded $151M in Ford Explorer rollover lawsuit