Articles Posted in Punitive Damages

David Ford’s wife and son (the plaintiffs) filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Ford Motor Co. after David Ford died as a result of injuries he suffered while working as a contractor at Ford Motor’s Kansas City, Mo., assembly plant.  He was delivering vehicle seats to the plant when he was crushed between a stationary guard rail and a moving piece of machinery.

The Ford family alleged that Ford Motor was negligent for choosing not to remove a barricade with a dangerous pinch point, or to effectively warn visitors of its existence.

After an 8-day jury trial in the Circuit Court of Clay County, Mo., the jury found Ford Motor to have 95% comparative fault for Ford’s injuries and death. The jury signed a verdict in favor of the Ford family, the plaintiffs, in the amount of $38 million in compensatory damages. In addition, the jury awarded the plaintiffs an additional $38 million in aggravating circumstances damages, amounting to punitive damages.

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BNSF Railway Co. (BNSF) appealed the denial of its motion for summary judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) following a jury trial and judgment, which granted Thomas and Dana Tubbs $2,598,000 in actual damages and $1,231,000 in punitive damages. The jury verdict and judgment were for BNSF’s negligence in choosing not to provide adequate drainage for a portion of railroad track that bisected the Tubbses’ farm.

The verdict was affirmed in this case by the Missouri Appellate Court. “The Tubbses own and operate a farm in a floodplain near the Missouri River in Holt County, Mo.”

. . . BNSF, an interstate freight railroad, owns and operates a track that runs east and west along the floodplain and bisects the Tubbses’ farm. The track sits atop an earthen embankment, which was originally rebuilt in 1887.

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