By on September 3, 2010

Ford was ordered by a Mississippi jury to pay $131m to the family of a New York Mets prospect who died in a rollover crash in 2001. The ruling came despite Ford’s insistence that Brian Cole had been driving at 80 MPH and was not wearing a seatbelt when his Explorer went off the road. Ford maintains that the judge in the case barred key evidence that would have absolved it of responsibility, and a spokesperson tells Reuters that

This was a tragic accident and our sympathy goes out to the Cole family for their loss, but it was unfair of them to blame Ford

Ford settled with Cole’s family immediately following the $131m award, and the family’s lawyer explained that the damages in this case were higher than other rollover cases because Cole was a professional baseball player.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!


28 Comments on “Ford Ordered To Pay $131m In Explorer Rollover Trial...”

  • avatar

    Two problems with this settlement (not knowing all the facts):
    -Driving 80 mph is no joke, seat belt should be FASTENED.. this is just asking for it.
    -So he was a prospect for the Mets.. Big deal.. That means they can sue for more? What the hell?
    Based on that information, motorcyclists (and their families) should be able to sue for death/injury if they crash and are not wearing protective gear.. I give up..

    • 0 avatar

      <i>So he was a prospect for the Mets.. Big deal.. That means they can sue for more? What the hell?</i>

      When you sue for wrongfull death the idea is that you are to be compensated for your loss.  One of the metrics is the net present value of all future earnings.  If you cause the death of an unemployed 60 year old drug addict it might cost you X.  If you cause the death of a 32 yo McKinsey consultant who’s about to make partner it could cost you 50X.

    • 0 avatar

      Sure, but to make 130 mil he’d have to have a ten year career at 13 million a year.  Considering the vast majority of prospects never get out of the minors the odds of him making that kind of money are extremely long.  Combine that with the fact that he was breaking at least two laws and exercising poor judgment (SUVs aren’t built for speed), this award is way out of line.

    • 0 avatar

      If I drop an anvil on your car, I owe more if you car was a Corvette than if it were a Yaris.

  • avatar

    I am surprised that Ford settled without appealing the verdict.

  • avatar

    What ever happened to taking responsibility for one’s own actions/inactions?
    All these tire blowouts followed by loss of control/death, should’ve lead to public service announcements about what to do when your tire blows out. Most ppl are clueless. Instead we got; “Talk to you children…”

  • avatar

    If the dumpster lid ever falls upon the head of this Disgruntled Old Coot, star of neither stage nor screen, a mere commoner far from being a sport or entertainment figure, ergo, NOT a “hero” in the minds of many USA sheep/citizens, will I be awarded or rewarded to any substantial or even insubstantial extent or will I be more likely to have the judge and jury view me as just another low-life slob, a dreg of society, a parasitical vermin who should have had the courtesy to just expire and slowly settle to the dumpsters’ depths and end up at the landfill where the awaiting earth would envelope my discarded carcass and provide sustenance for various insects and billions upon billions of bacteria served.
    Perhaps local ordinances need to be enacted requiring dumpster divers to wear protective head gear while scrounging for sustenance.
    Remember, for general accuracy take the latest reported “official” unemployment figures and double them.
    And if bad luck befalls thee, brethren, a vast multitude of working-poor and unemployed poor await thee with open welcoming arms.
    Prepare for poverty now.  I, the Disgruntled One, highly recommend possessing a vehicle that is capable of dwelling within and can be discrete, blending into an urban or suburban landscape.

  • avatar

    Ford should have fought this to the bitter end.  I’m afraid they’ve set a bad precedent here.

    • 0 avatar

      gslippy: the problem is that once a case goes to a jury or to an appeals court, the litigant loses all control.  Every trial lawyer will tell you that he has won cases he should have lost and lost cases he should have won.  Ford fought it through a jury trial and got a bad result.  To win an appeal, Ford would have to prove that the trial court committed some error, either in an evidence ruling or in instructing the jury.  This is not an easy burdon.  Ford looked at the expense of an appeal and the possiblity of losing, and the plaintiff likely looked at the expense of an appeal and the possiblity of losing, and they both came to a deal they could live with.  A good settlement leaves both sides slightly unhappy.  It looks like this one went bad for Ford, most likely because of a victim with very high earning potential. 

      I can make you one guarantee – if we had been there, we would at least understand the verdict.  We maybe wouldn’t agree with it, but we would understand it.  News reports just don’t get us there.

    • 0 avatar

      @jpcavanaugh: The one interesting feature of this story is the Ford “insists” that Cole was not wearing a seatbelt.  I wonder whether this remains an unproven fact.  If Ford is wrong on this point, they could lose the case.  Perhaps they had doubt the point could be proven, and were afraid of unleashing another wave of rollover cases.

  • avatar

    So if the driver had been wearing his seat belt and traveling at the posted speed and still died, would the settlement have been $400 million?

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    <i>When you sue for wrongfull death the idea is that you are to be compensated for your loss.  One of the metrics is the net present value of all future earnings. </i>

    Let’s extrapolate.  I’m an educator.  I want my family compensated for all the future earnings of the people I didn’t get to educationally enhance.

    Finally, it’s not like the guy was a Yankees prospect.  It’s was the Mets for crying out loud….

    And at 80 mph without a seatbelt IN ANY SUV, it seems Darwin may have stepped in.

  • avatar

    The judicial system in America astonishes me.  I can’t think of anything Ford could have done, short of designing a vehicle with an incredibly dangerous design fault (i.e. a steering column falling off in his hands) that would warrant their having to pay $131 million to the family of someone so reckless.

  • avatar
    Uncle Mellow

    Ford got shafted , simple as that.There is room for improvement in the American legal system.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, Ford got shafted, the other rider in the Explorer had their seat belt on…
      Cole was killed Saturday afternoon while driving from Port St. Lucie to his parents’ home in Meridian, Miss. His sports utility vehicle rolled over and Cole, who was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected onto the highway. His cousin Ryan Cole, 17, who was wearing a seat belt, suffered no serious injuries.
      So how it Fords fault Cole darwinized himself?

    • 0 avatar

      Juries love sports players.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Sure looks like the cause of death was leaving the Explorer if the passenger, wearing his seat belt, suffered no serious injuries.  Vehicle safety systems worked.  If he was car surfing on the top of the Explorer, would Ford still be liable if his body hit the road or a tree at 80mph?

  • avatar

    Speaking as a frustrated Mets fan, the chances that this kid was going to be a high-earning superstar ballplayer were infintesimal.

  • avatar

    I hope the parents enjoy the blood money.
    Enjoy those new houses!
    Enjoy those new sports sedans!
    Enjoy your nice clothing, watches, and jewelry!

    Ford has my complete support on this issue. Shame on that lawyer and that family.

  • avatar
    Mike Kelley

    This is just another nutty jury award that shows the need for tort reform in this country.  I hope the Republican Congress that convenes next year makes some changes.  The Democrats are hopelessly in bed with the trial lawyers.

    • 0 avatar

      One, you are assuming that the midterm elections are just going to drop in the hands of the Big Business Party.  Two, reform sounds great when you get a snippet of a case like this one.  It sure seems like Ford is not to blame here.  But, do you really want more difficulty in getting justice if YOU were the one suing for a real reason?  As it is now, the deck is already stacked against you in cases against big companies because money (usually) buys the best justice…the little guy gets stiffed at every turn.  Why would you want to make it even harder on the average guy?

  • avatar
    Acc azda atch

    1. This doesn’t surprise me, not in the least. Ford has lost every case involving this vehicle, PERIOD. And they deserve to, its a shitty vehicle (based on a dozen “concepts” showing its not safe to be driven), that shouldn’t have been made in the first place.
    2. Now, with that said, The issue with the seatbelt.. that’s just stupid.

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Lorenzo: No one in America wanted to hear him, but he was an authority in Japan. That’s why this is so shocking.
  • SpinnyD: Tell that to the expensive Nav system in my Highlander. the volume knob doesn’t work for crap. turn it...
  • bd2: The Ioniq EV has low sales due to being limited to the Cali market which is in part due to limited supply as it...
  • Jerome10: I admit I check CR reliability ratings. Again, better than nothing. But my god I have a damn hard time...
  • golden2husky: Zackman. our inherited 2002 Century W has similar mileage and has been very reliable, intake...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote


  • Contributors

  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States