In 1994, 3-year-old Walter White was playing in the driveway of his Nevada home. His father's 1992 Ford F-350 pickup, which was parked in the driveway, rolled over the child and killed him.
His family filed a product liability lawsuit against Ford Motor Co.
In the first trial, the jury brought a $150.9 million verdict for punitive damages against Ford. Jurors concluded that the truck's self-adjusting parking brake was defectively designed. But they didn't blame the death on that defect. Instead, they held Ford liable for negligence, for intentionally misrepresenting the truck's safety and for failing to warn consumers of a known risk.
Although the trial judge cut the punitive damage award to $69.2 million, an appeals court granted Ford a new trial on the amount of punitive damages. After the second trial, a different jury ordered Ford to pay $52 million in punitive damages.
Ford appealed again. Now the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says Ford deserves a third trial because of errors in the second trial.
That decision leaves intact the original $2.3 million compensatory damage award against Ford. It also maintains a confidential settlement between the boy's family and Orschein Co., which designed and built the parking brake.
Ford has paid the compensatory damage award with interest, said plaintiffs' lawyer Shanin Specter of Philadelphia.