Ford $3M Stuck-Throttle Verdict Reversed

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By Martina Barash

A West Virginia couple’s roughly $3 million sudden-acceleration verdict against Ford Motor Co. turned into a loss as the Fourth Circuit rejected the opinion of their electrical-engineering witness Feb. 1 ( Nease v. Ford Motor Co. , 2017 BL 29716, La. Ct. App., 4th Cir., No. 15-1950, 2/1/17 ).

Expert Samuel Sero didn’t adequately support his testimony that the 2001 Ford Ranger pickup’s speed control assembly was unsafe and that a reasonable alternative design existed, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit said.

Sero has sought to testify for plaintiffs in numerous sudden-acceleration cases. But his opinions are controversial and some courts have found his testimony unsupported.

The suit by Howard and Nancy Nease alleged “mechanical binding” caused by a design defect in the speed control cable induced the accelerator to stick as Howard Nease drove. He lost control of the vehicle, crashed into a brick wall, and suffered severe and permanent injuries, they said.

Bailey, Javins & Carter LC and Tiano O’Dell PLLC represented the plaintiffs.

O’Melveny & Myers LLP and Flaherty, Sensabaugh & Bonasso PLLC represented Ford.

To contact the reporter on this story: Martina Barash in Washington at MBarash@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Patrick at spatrick@bna.com

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