February 4, 2002

Reports that Explorer is defective part of ‘spin’ campaign, says Ford

On Friday, a California jury concluded that Ford Motor Company and the Ford Explorer had no responsibility for a tragic accident that happened to Agop and Catherine Gozukara in 1997. A 1994 Ford Explorer driven by Agop rolled over when it hit a centre concrete median. Agop suffered leg injuries and Catherine was paralysed – neither were wearing seatbelts. The jury found that faulty repair work by an auto repair shop caused the accident.

Dennis E. Ross, Vice President & General Counsel, for Ford Motor Company said the jury’s exoneration of Ford and the Explorer was obscured by a determined “spin” campaign from the plaintiff’s attorney. In an interview with Reuters news agency, Garo Mardirossian, attorney for the plaintiffs said that the California jury ruled that the used Ford Explorer model was defective when shipped from the factory.

“The only element of the jury verdict with any legal or financial significance was its holding that Ford and the Explorer were not responsible in any way for the accident,” said Ross. “The finding of some “unspecified defect” in the Explorer is legally inconsequential, since the jury found it was no factor in the accident and thus was irrelevant to the case.”

Ross said the U.S. National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) has verified that the Explorer is one of the safest vehicles on the road. In all accident types, the Explorer is 27 percent safer than passenger cars, and 19 percent safer than other compact SUVs in a rollover accident.

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