Ford Motor Company and the family of Brian Cole settled the wrongful death/product liability case after the huge jury verdict was awarded at trial. The settlement amount was not disclosed.
Mr. Cole, then 22 years old, was drafted by the New York Mets, and early indications were that he would develop into a stellar professional athlete. He died on March 31, 2001, when a tire blow out resulted in a rollover accident where he was ejected from the Ford Explorer.
Through their attorneys, Cole's family alleged that he died because a design defect in the seat belt caused it to fail, and also, that Ford Explorers had a tendency to roll over, particularly when a tire blow out occurred.
A settlement protects Ford from potentially greater liability for punitive damages which sometimes outstrip the compensatory damages awarded.
Ford has spent huge sums settling Explorer roll over cases. The National Traffic Safety Administration estimates that nearly 4 of 10 fatal automobile accidents involve SUV roll overs.