$131,000,000.00 Car Accident Verdict
The family of a New York Mets prospect killed in a 2001 rollover accident while leaving spring training won a $131 million judgment against the Ford Motor Co.
Brian Cole, a top outfield prospect for the Mets, died from injuries suffered on March 31, 2001, when his Ford Explorer Sport veered off State Highway 8 in Florida and rolled over.
Former Mets GM Jim Duquette testified during the trial. "He was just a wonderful kid," Leopold said. "As Jim Duquette stated, they were building the team around him. He was a remarkable athlete. He was going to be a superstar. Jim and the Mets organization pegged him with Torii Hunter, [Jose] Reyes. They had him pegged with all those types of guys. His numbers were as good."
We contended "the Explorer is defective and unreasonably dangerous for the uses for which it was marketed because the vehicle has an unreasonable tendency to roll when used as Ford marketed it to be used [as a station wagon replacement], and that the vehicle is also defective and unreasonably dangerous from an occupant protection or 'crashworthiness' standpoint because the safety belt failed to remain locked and permitted Brian to be thrown from the car and killed."
Eleven of the 12 jury members agreed on the verdict against Ford, after which the case was settled. Nine were needed for a resolution. It was the third time the case was being tried. The first two cases ended in hung juries.