A Memphis jury has returned a $6.5 million judgment against Ford Motor Co. to the family of a boy who was critically injured in a 2002 two-car crash that also killed three men, including his father and grandfather. The Circuit Court jury found that Ford was liable for 15% of its $43.8 million total judgment because the adult seatbelt used by six-year-old Billy Meals was deemed to be defective and not suitable for a child. The rest of the judgment was against the deceased driver of the other vehicle whose estate was not a party in this case.
Billy Meals, now 14, remains paralyzed below the waist. He was in the back seat of his grandfather’s 1995 Mercury Grand Marquis in an adult seatbelt with the shoulder strap behind his back because it did not fit. Jurors found that Ford was responsible for the boy’s enhanced injuries in the accident, which occurred in 2002. The Meals’ vehicle was struck head-on by a 1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass driven by John M. Harris, who was also killed. Police spotted him driving at a high rate of speed just before the crash and witnesses said his car clipped another vehicle, veered into the southbound lanes of the highway and hit the Meals’ car. Harris, who was intoxicated and had cocaine in his system, was found to be 70% at fault. The boy’s father was found to be 15% at fault as the custodial parent at the time of the accident. Neither was a party in the suit.
Source: The Commercial Appeal
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