A major personal injury Supreme Court battle is finally done. The suit, consisting of a pair of cases consolidated into one ruling, was a major blow to Ford’s legal defense team. In an 8-0 decision, the highest court in the land sided with plaintiffs from Minnesota and Montana, who respectively were injured and killed as a result of alleged defects in the Ford vehicles they were driving at the time.
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Alleged Ford Defects
The plaintiffs in the case first attempted to sue Ford in state court, alleging that the 1996 Explorer and 1994 Crown Victoria they were driving at the time had defects which directly led to injury or death. They each bought their vehicles from out of state, but the accidents in question occurred in their home states.
Ford appealed both cases, citing that because the plaintiffs did not buy their cars in the forum states (the states where the lawsuits were being filed), they had no legal ground to stand on. The Ford legal team then brought attention to precedent set in Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California, a case in which the court sided with a pharmaceutical company which was being sued by non residents in California. The Supreme Court had ruled that California courts did not have specific jurisdiction to hear the claims of nonresidents in a class action when those plaintiffs didn’t buy or ingest the drug in the state. Ford argued that the location where the vehicles were sold should be the determining factor as to where a lawsuit may be filed; where the accidents occurred, or where the lawsuits were being filed, was immaterial.
The Supreme Court Steps In
After Ford appealed the state court cases, it fell to the Supreme Court to make a decision. In a surprise twist, the court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, citing that Ford’s case was not the same situation as Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California, meaning that the Ford defense team’s legal precedent argument did not apply.
In her opinion Justice Kagan argued, “Yes, Ford sold the specific products in other states, as Bristol-Myers Squibb had, but here, the plaintiffs are residents of the forum states. They used the allegedly defective products in the forum states. And they suffered injuries when those products malfunctioned in the forum states.”
Kagan’s opinion was backed by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Brett M. Kavanaugh in full, along with concurrence from Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas. Justice Amy Coney Barrett did not participate.
Contact Gokal Law
Have you been injured due to a defective product, and are considering taking the case to court? Contact Alison Gokal of Gokal Law Group, Inc. Our team will diligently investigate your claims, interview witnesses, and give you the support you need to win your case. The sooner you contact us, the more effective we are at getting you the justice you deserve.
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