An Ohio jury has cleared Ford Motor Co. of charges that a 1987 Ford Mustang is defective after a 1991 accident left a passenger a quadriplegic.
Raymond Richard Nelson was traveling with two classmates to Ohio State University when the accident occurred. A drunken driver hit the Mustang on the front-passenger side of the car where Nelson was sitting. The crash sent Nelson through the windshield, causing head injuries so severe that he became a quadriplegic. Nelson filed suit against Ford, seeking $23 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
In the lawsuit, Nelson claimed he was wearing his seat belt at the time of the accident and the tension eliminator feature on the shoulder belt was defective because it allowed excess slack, reducing his protection. Further, Nelson charged that the Mustang was defective because it lacked a passenger-side airbag.
Ford countered that the physical evidence indicated Nelson was not wearing his seat belt and that passenger-side airbags were not practical and technically feasible in 1987.
The jury in the Court of Common Pleas in Lake County, Ohio, agreed with Ford, rendering a verdict in Ford's favor.
Nelson's attorneys have filed a motion for a new trial. That motion is pending.