Duet v. Ford Motor Company
(August 2005)

Lance B. Williams and Keith W. McDaniel obtained a defense verdict after a week long jury trial in Thibodaux, LA. Plaintiff, Melissa Duet, was driving her 2000 Ford F-150 when another vehicle suddenly pulled in front of her. She struck the vehicle, resulting in nearly $15,000 damage to the Ford. Her airbag did not deploy, and she claimed various cervical, lumbar and head trauma resulted from the system’s failure to deploy. She ultimately underwent a discectomy and fusion of the C5-6 vertebrae. Plaintiff alleged that Ford was liable under the Louisiana Product Liability Act for failure to comply with an express warranty, i.e., that the airbag would deploy under similar circumstances. Plaintiff presented a biomechanical expert to support her claim that her injuries were the result of the failure of the airbag to deploy. Those claims were rebutted by Ford’s design and biomechanical experts, who demonstrated that the forces were insufficient for the airbag to deploy and that plaintiff’s injuries were pre-existing and unrelated to the accident. Plaintiff asked for $250,000 in damages. The jury returned a unanimous verdict after two hours of deliberation.