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Engineer testifies in case of burned patrolman, Ross Linert

Published: Fri, July 15, 2011 @ 12:07 a.m.


Ross Linert


Adrien Foutz

By Peter H. Milliken



Ford made a significant safety and crashworthy improvement to fuel tanks being installed in its cars two years after the manufacture of the car in which Austintown Patrolman Ross J. Linert was badly burned, a Ford engineer said.

“Ultimately, what we did was we got more metal folded over,” Steve Haskell, an engineer overseeing fuel tank manufacture in Dearborn, Mich., told Bradley M. Lakin, a lawyer for Linert and his wife, Brenda.

Haskell’s video testimony came Thursday on the third day of the jury trial of a multimillion-dollar lawsuit the Linerts filed against the Ford Motor Co.

The suit stemmed from a fiery, 116-mph, rear-end crash caused by a drunken driver, who also survived the crash, at 1:08 a.m. Nov. 11, 2007, on Meridian Road under Interstate 680.

Linert was driving a 2005 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor cruiser at 35 mph, resulting in a net crash speed of 81 mph, said James Feeney, a Ford lawyer.

Visiting Judge Thomas P. Curran of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court is presiding over the trial, which is expected to last two to three weeks before an eight-member jury.

Linert was burned because of an undesirable behind-the-rear axle tank location and because fuel leaked from that tank after the crash due to the thinness of a metal crimp at the hole where fuel leaves the tank and goes to the engine, Lakin said.

In October 2007, Ford boosted crimp overlap thickness of 3 millimeters to 3.5 millimeters to 4 millimeters to 4.5 millimeters, Haskell said, adding that the boost made the joint stronger.

“It made it more robust or safer,” as intended, Haskell said, quickly adding: “We don’t build anything that’s not safe.”

Haskell, a manufacturing process engineer, was quick to add, however, that he is not a product-design engineer or a crash-testing expert.

One of two alternate jurors was excused from the case Thursday morning because he would have suffered substantial wage losses had he remained on the jury.


1Wapiti(139 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Sounds like Ford manufactured another PINTO in this Crown Victoria.

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2TB(1167 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Looks like Linert has a case after all the naysaying here on vindy.com.

Good luck Ross!

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3JJackson(5 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

It wasnt just the pinto, the f series pickups had the tank mounted behind the cab which would explode on impact, thus being why they moved it into the frame rails. Ford knows its a problem and doesnt want to admit it. if it wasnt a problem, why would you stop making the crown victoria in 2012 when you know that it is your top selling car with nearly 400,000 on the road right now.of all of the deathes and fire caused by this car, not everyone is a rearend collision, some are side and all are at differant speeds. 2 years ago ohio state highway patrol had a police officer loose control of his crown vic and strike a pole. Do you rally think he hit that pole at 81 mph? however his car did ignite causing his death...

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4UNCOMMONSENSE(622 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

It is a no win situation with you ambulance chasers. If Ford re-engineered the Crown Victoria and placed the gas tank between the axles, that would not necessarily guarantee a safer vehicle. That's because the gas tank then would be vulnerable to side-impact collisions, which occur more frequently than rear-end crashes.

The National Highway Safety Agency also found that the Crown Victoria met federal standards to withstand 30 mph rear collisions without leaking fuel. And it documented plenty of high-speed rear crashes in which the Crown Victoria lost little or no fuel.

At 116 mpg (81mph net speed) the odds of a fiery crash are great. They are greater for police vehicles because they are often parked when hit (although this vehicle was not).

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5TB(1167 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

It's not about being an ambulance chaser. It's about consumer protection. Something as simple as a few millimeters of steel would have solved this problem...a minimal added cost to production to save a life.

How much is a life worth to you UCS?

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6JJackson(5 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

The National Highway Safety ADMINISTRATION found that WITH the fire suppresion installed on the crown victoria that the car WOULD infact withstand a rear end collision at 81.9 mph. They have known about this issue well before the 2005 crown vic that Ross was driving was built. The fire suppresion system was available and tested by the NTSA in 2007. If the fire suppression system had been tested and installed on Ross's crown vic, that was hit at 81 mph. there is an almost definate chance that his car would not have caught fire.

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7UNCOMMONSENSE(622 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Jackson does your car have a fire suppresion system?? NO because it is not necessary under normal circumstances. This was an extreme collision and even a few millimeters of steel would not guarantee safety. He was the one that continued to drive a police vehicle that he claims to be "unsafe."

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8TB(1167 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

awwww Jackson has the facts and so does Ross. Hang it up UCS. Your opinion isn't borne out here.

He claims it to be unsafe because he almost died in a fire inside of it. That's pretty unsafe to me.

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9JJackson(5 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Ross is a personal friend of mine, i also have seen the vehicle inside and out which most people havn't. i'v spent two days researching vehicles. Let me as you a question. If you went to school and got into the career field that you wanted to, but were only given the choice of one piece of equiment to use. would you use it or quit your job? Ross had no choice in the vehicles he was able to drive. Just like the state patrol. You are probably totally unaware of this, but the state patrol is going over to the chargers, silver chargers, this decision started when the state patrolman died 2 years ago. When you make a vehicle that is going to be used for police work and you know that it is suseptable to any type of an accident, then you need to make sure you have your ducks in a row and a safe vehicle for police officers to drive in. If there is a problem with it, then you recall them until the problem is fixed. In 1978 a ford engineer stated that it was a problem and ford chose to do nothing about it. To ford it was about money and reputation, you think that a massiverecall on police vehicles all over the country would have made ford look good? This isnt just about ross but about all of the others that have lost their lives or who's lives have been turned upside down because of this vehicle.

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