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John Bisnar
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Mother files lawsuit over faulty SUV tire that caused fatal crash

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The mother of Palm Beach Central High School student last week filed suit against Ford Motor Co., Continental Tire North America and Wayne Akers Ford stemming from a Columbia County rollover automobile accident last summer that killed her 17-year-old, according to a news report in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Brianna Cox and her family were traveling south on Interstate 75 on July 16, heading home from a softball tournament in Alabama, when their 2001 Ford Expedition rolled several times just outside Lake City. According to the attorney who filed the suit, the right rear tire separated from the rim, causing Cox’s stepfather, Bill Gaidosh, to lose control of the SUV.

This is the same set of facts we have seen over and over again, a Ford Expedition rolls over after a tire failure and the roof caves in and kills or paralyzes the occupant on the trailing side of the roll. I can’t even tell you how many of these accidents there have been, it’s in the hundreds. Each of these tire, rollover, roof crush cases are different, yet they are all the same. This one is not different, it ends the same but the mechanism of injury is unique.

The article stated that as the car rolled repeatedly, a pillar that connects the roof to the mid-section of the vehicle crushed inward, shredding Cox’s seat belt. She was ejected from the SUV and died from her injuries. Her mother, Barbara Gaidosh, suffered broken bones and other injuries in the crash. Briana’s stepfather and half-sister had minor injuries.

The “shredding” of the seat belt, I haven’t seen before in this vehicle in this accident sequence. I have seen shredded seat belts and a hundred ejections but not like this. This will take a talented legal team including biomechanical experts and accident re=constructionists to put this case on. Ford has a number of experts that will testify that what happened wasn’t Ford’s fault and they have no responsibility.

The lawsuit alleges defective tire and vehicle design. Wayne Akers Ford is named as a defendant because it sold the purportedly defective Eddie Bauer edition Expedition in 2001, according to Smith.

“It’s a tragedy of the worst kind and an irony of the worst kind that they were driving on a defective tire and occupants in a defective vehicle,” the plaintiff’s attorney said. “It’s a worst-case scenario and a worst-case result.”

He said Ford is facing similar lawsuits in other states. Ford’s roof structure integrity has been compromised in rollover accidents, which means, it crushes inward toward the occupant compartment, the attorney explained.

The performance or the lack of it, when it comes to rollover crashes with Ford’s SUVs – be it Explorer, Expedition or Excursion – is well-known. Brian and I have been after Ford Motor Co. in dozens of lawsuits were we allege failures in their stability and handling, restraint systems and roof systems that have led to catastrophic injuries to our clients.

Of course, this particular product liability lawsuit is with reference to tires, but Ford SUVs are notorious for poor roof strength in rollover crashes. We’re in the process of crash testing Ford Excursions and the results have been dramatic and scary. Our testing has shown that the roof on the Excursion is so weak that it gets flattened even in a moderate rollover accident.

If you’ve been serious injured by a defective product, contact me. I’ll disuses it with you..