CLEARWATER, Fla. - Ford Motor Co. has appealed a judge's ruling that overturned a jury decision for Ford in an accident case that involved an Escort.
Judge Howard Rives of Pinellas County Circuit Court ordered a new trial after it was discovered that two jurors had failed to disclose important background information.
In March, a jury decided Ford was not responsible for injuries in a 1992 crash in which the plaintiff claimed the fuel pump of the 19881/2 Ford Escort failed to shut off.
The car had been driven by a drunken, unlicensed driver who lost control of the Escort, which hit a tree, rolled over and burned. Two of the three youths in the car died.
Karen D'Amario, the mother of the surviving victim, had claimed a design defect and negligence led to the fire that cost her son Clifford Harris amputation of three limbs and burns over 80 percent of his body.
In overruling the jury, Rives said his reasons included jury misconduct and refusal of the court to allow discussion of Ford Pinto cases. The judge also said Ford placed undue emphasis on alcohol as the primary cause of injury.
One juror neglected to reveal that a family plumbing business owned 25 Fords and previous involvement in lawsuits. Another failed to mention her husband had been sued.
Frank McDonald, an Orlando attorney representing Ford, said an appeal of the judge's ruling has been filed with the Second District Court of Appeals in Lakeland, Fla.
Ford Pinto cases chiefly involved rear-end crashes and ruptured fuel tanks.