facebooktwitterRSS
- Advertisement -
  • Most Commentedmost commented up
  • Most Emailedmost emailed up
  • Popularmost popular up
- Advertisement -
 

« News Home

Jury gets case in $19M lawsuit filed by ex-officer against Ford



Published: Tue, July 26, 2011 @ 12:08 a.m.

By Peter H. Milliken

milliken@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

A jury will now decide the outcome of a $19 million lawsuit by a former Austintown police officer who said he was badly burned in a collision because the Ford Motor Co. made a defective cruiser.

As soon as lawyers concluded their closing arguments Monday evening, visiting Judge Thomas P. Curran of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court read to the jurors a 71-page set of instructions governing their deliberations.

The former officer, Ross J. Linert, and his wife, Brenda, alleged that the 2005 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor cruiser, which Linert drove when he was burned in the crash, had a fuel tank that was improperly located behind its rear axle, without adequate shields or guards and without a fire- suppression system.

However, Ford’s lawyers argued there was nothing wrong with the vehicle and that no vehicle is leak-proof, accident-proof or fireproof in a case, such as this, where a drunken driver rear-ended Linert at 115 mph while Linert was going 35 mph.

“This is about the Ford Motor Co. and the burn injuries that were caused by their negligence,” said Bradley M. Lakin, a lawyer for the Linerts.

Lakin told the jury the metal crimp in the fuel tank’s sending unit, from which gasoline is sent to the engine, was too thin, causing the sending unit to dislodge in the crash and leak the fuel that caused the fire that burned Linert.

“That’s the difference between a fire in this case and Ross Linert going home with broken ribs,” Lakin said of the metal crimp, adding that it didn’t meet Ford’s engineering standards.

“We are here because Adrien Foutz, for reasons that are unknown, drove 115 mph down Meridian Road northbound at about 1 o’clock in the morning,” Ford’s lawyer, James Feeney, told the jury. “Her conduct is the only conduct that could have changed to have any different outcome here,” Feeney said of Foutz.

The Linerts reached a pretrial settlement with Foutz with undisclosed terms.

Foutz, 25, of Girard, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.279 — more than three times the legal limit — when she rear-ended Linert on Meridian Road under Interstate 680 on Nov. 11, 2007. She pleaded no contest to aggravated vehicular assault and served 19 months in prison.

Feeney said the gasoline tank met engineering standards and that there is no numerical specification for crimp overlap.

There is no evidence a different gas-tank location would have made any difference in the outcome of the crash that injured Linert, Feeney said.

“This tank location is safe,” Feeney said, noting that Linert’s gas tank was 40 inches from the rear of the cruiser.

“The vehicle is the best, safest police vehicle that is on the road in 2005,” he said.

During his closing argument, Lakin asked the jury to award a combined total of $19 million to the Linerts, including awards for lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, permanent deformity, mental anguish and loss of grip strength and manual dexterity.

During the closing arguments, Austintown Police Chief Robert Gavalier sat on a spectator bench on the plaintiff’s side of the courtroom with a captain, a sergeant and a patrolman from the police department.


Comments

1commoncitizen(961 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

It's a shame that Linert got hurt BUT it wasn't tha fault of Ford. Linert already sued the person that caused the accident, and settled with her insurance company, so now he's (with his lawyer) going after Ford because they have "deep pockets"
His lawyer should have to produce a vehicle that could with stand an accident like that and NOT catch on fire.

Suggest removal:

2lilgandee(103 comments)posted 3 years, 1 month ago

I was in an auto accident in 05 barely similar-the person was going 45 or more and the driver in my car was just starting to leave the stop sign. I had been told that "limited tort" by the insurance company was nothing but a little bit more cost. My rear end was pushed in so far into the back seat. I was hurt pretty bad and not enough cost of medical bills, and having limited tort kept me for receiving any monetary compensation for my change of living. Pennsylvania drivers need to know this and since The Herald refused to print my letter to the editor, I am urging anyone who knows PA drivers that they should get full tort so if they are hit they have the ability to sue for damages. Tell them to ask their insurance carrier, see if they tell you the difference between the 2? I wonder why they don't really explain the facts, oh it's because they would have to pay! Go figure. I am sorry the officer was hurt but a high speed collision is the cause-are there other officers or civilians whose car did the same thing? if so maybe a suit is logical but be happy you were able to sue and receive compensation from the driver.

Suggest removal:


News
Opinion
Entertainment
Sports
Marketplace
Classifieds
Records
Discussions
Community
Help
Forms
Neighbors

HomeTerms of UsePrivacy StatementAdvertiseStaff DirectoryHelp
© 2014 Vindy.com. All rights reserved. A service of The Vindicator.
107 Vindicator Square. Youngstown, OH 44503

Phone Main: 330.747.1471 • Interactive Advertising: 330.740.2955 • Classified Advertising: 330.746.6565
Sponsored Links: Vindy Wheels | Vindy Jobs | Vindy Homes | Pittsburgh International Airport