Ford Motor Co. has settled a Mississippi lawsuit over a 2001 accident in which Brian Cole, a top New York Mets prospect, was killed when his SUV crashed in the Florida Panhandle. The settlement came shortly after the jury in Jasper County had awarded $131 million in actual damages to the victim’s family and before it was to consider awarding punitive damages. The settlement amount and terms are confidential.
Cole, then 22, died from injuries he suffered when his Ford Explorer overturned as he drove home on March 31, 2001, from spring training in Port St. Lucie, Florida, to Meridian, Mississippi, with his cousin, Ryan Cole. Brian Cole was ejected from the SUV. He was taking his Explorer home and was to fly to Binghamton, New York, to join the Mets’ Double-A team for its season opener. The one-car accident occurred on Interstate 10. Brian Cole, who was single and the youngest of five children, was pronounced dead at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Ryan Cole, then 17, was treated and released. The family made two claims: the Explorer was unstable and its safety belts didn’t work in rollovers, which allowed Brian Cole to be thrown out of the car during the rollover despite being belted.
Brian Cole went to Meridian High School and was Baseball America’s junior college player of the year in 1998 at Navarro Junior College in Texas. He was selected by the Mets in the 18th round of the 1998 amateur draft and turned down a football scholarship to Florida State. Tab Turner, a very good lawyer from Little Rock, Arkansas, represented the Plaintiff and he did a very good job.
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