NJ Appeals Court Says $8M Explorer Rollover Verdict Against Ford Will Stand

A New Jersey Appeals Court has ruled that an $8 million product liability design defect verdict against Ford Motor Company and Freehold Ford which alleged that the throttle of a 22 year old's Explorer SUV became stuck, rolled over and left her without use of most of her right arm, will stand.

Ford rollover

This New Jersey product liability lawsuit involves a Ford rollover. According to news reports, 22 year old Rebekah Zokrocki was driving her 1997 Ford Explorer SUV (sport utility vehicle) on the Garden State Parkway in 2000. The truck's throttle became stuck and the vehicle surged, rolled over and severed her right arm. She lost most of the use of that arm and has had to undergo more than 20 different surgeries to reattach her hand and repair her arm.

She sued the Ford Motor Company and Freehold Ford, the automobile dealer where she purchased the vehicle, alleging that the Explorer was defectively designed due to sludge that had built up on the vehicle's throttle and that the design of the vehicle’s suspension brakes and geometry gave it a heightened propensity to tip over. Although Ford disputed those allegations, ironically, it recalled 1997 Explorers because of stuck throttles six weeks after Zokrocki's crash.

A jury awarded her $8 million for her injuries in 2007. The defendants appealed that verdict, but a New Jersey Appeals Court recently upheld it – partially due to Zokrocki's product liability attorney's ability to show that Ford had paid it's expert over $77 million to testify in 100 similar cases.

SUV rollovers a common occurrence

SUV rollover accidents happen every day to unsuspecting drivers and passengers. Here are two recent cases which recently made headlines:

  • $6.5 million: A Texas jury awarded a disabled oil field worker $6.5 million for injuries he sustained in 2004 when his 1993 Ford Explorer rolled over. The victim was ejected from the vehicle and suffered severe brain damage and will need care for the rest of his life.
  • $11 million: A Florida couple was awarded $11 million for the death of their son after their Mitsubishi Montero rolled over. Their son, who was wearing his seat belt, was thrown through the rear window and died within hours.

If you've been injured in an SUV rollover accident, contact an SUV rollover attorney to discuss your situation and evaluate your options. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.

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