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Home / Editor's Picks / Family’s negligence suit against Ford nets $76M

Family’s negligence suit against Ford nets $76M

A Clay County jury awarded the family of a man crushed by machinery while dropping off Ford F-150 seats at the Ford Motor Co.’s Claycomo plant a $76 million verdict on Feb. 23.

The plaintiffs were the survivors of David Ford. They included Lisa Ford, his wife, and sons Jacob, Luke and David Ford Jr.

They filed the lawsuit against the company in Clay County Circuit Court in January 2016.

According to the petition, the injury occurred in December 2015, when David Ford delivered seats to the plant for the assembly line.

David Ford was an employee of an outside company, Walkenhorst Transportation of Lee’s Summit. It was his 13th day on the job.

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When he arrived at the plant, the petition said he offloaded the seats from his truck and onto a conveyor belt. During the unloading process, the conveyor belt jammed, pinning David Ford into the machinery.

David Ford suffered injury to his inferior vena cava, a major vein carrying blood from the lower body to the heart, multiple broken ribs, spinal fractures, internal bleeding, collapsed lungs and a broken sternum, according to the plaintiffs’ attorney, Michael S. Ketchmark of Ketchmark & McCreight in Leawood, Kansas.

He underwent open-heart surgery in attempt to repair his heart, but he died a week following the incident. He was 48.

The plaintiffs alleged the company should have known the dangerous condition posed by the conveyor belt, and that Ford Motor Co. had a duty to use ordinary care to remove the dangerous condition or to warn others like David Ford.

The plaintiffs alleged three other incidents had occurred at the same point in the machinery where he was injured, a point the company denied.

The company further denied it was negligent in its answer to the complaint.

The jury verdict followed two weeks of trial.

Nine of the 12 jurors found the company liable for David Ford’s injuries, awarding his family $38 million in compensatory damages and finding the company liable for additional damages for aggravating circumstances.

They found David Ford to be five percent at fault for the incident, and Ford Motor Co. to be 95 percent at fault.

Ten of the 12 jurors approved an additional $38 million in damages for aggravating circumstances.

Gary Toole of McDonald Toole Wiggins in Orlando represented Ford Motor. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

$76,000,000 plaintiff’s verdict

Wrongful Death

Breakdown: $38 million in compensatory damages, $38 million in damages for aggravating circumstances

Injuries alleged: Transected inferior vena cava, multiple broken ribs, spinal fractures, internal bleeding, collapsed lungs and broken sternum, death

Venue: Clay County Circuit Court

Case Number/Date: 16CY-CV00063/Feb. 23, 2018

Judge: Janet Sutton

Plaintiff’s Experts: Russell Davis, Kansas City (Cardio-thoracic surgeon); Judy Melenik, San Francisco, California (Forensic pathologist); Paul English, San Antonio, Texas (Safety engineer); Franklin “Chip” Darius, Cromwell, Connecticut (safety engineer); John Ward, Prairie Village, Kansas (Accounting, damages)

Defendant’s Experts: Joseph Sala, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Human factors); Stephen Andrew, Menlo Park, California (Engineering)

Allocation of Fault: Five percent to David Ford, 95 percent to Ford Motor Company

Caption: Lisa Ford, Jacob Ford, Luke Ford, David Ford Jr. v. Ford Motor Company

Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Michael S. Ketchmark, Ben H. Fadler and Scott A. McCreight, Ketchmark & McCreight, Leawood, Kansas

Defendant’s Attorneys: Gary Toole and Jay Reid, McDonald Toole Wiggins, Orlando, Florida; Sherry Rozell, McAfee & Taft, Tulsa, Oklahoma