If you don’t believe that’s how big business works, then consider for a moment the case of the Ford Pinto. Ford knew that the positioning of the gas tank on the pinto posed a risk of explosion and fire in the case of a rear-end collision. Its in-house studies had shown that 37 out of 40 Pinto’s involved in a rear-end collision of less than 30 mph had gas tank leaks. If the collision was over 30 mph the likelihood was that an occupant would become trapped in the vehicle while it exploded in a fiery hell. One would think that the possibility of killing innocent occupants of its vehicles, especially in such a horrific manner, would be enough to cause Ford to recall the vehicles and change the design. But Ford did some calculations and decided that the cost of a few lives would be less than the cost of the recall and so let the design stand.
PERSONAL INJURY TRIAL LAWYERS TO THE RESCUE
Thankfully, some fierce and determined trial lawyers pursued the case of a young man who had suffered burns over 90 percent of his body when the Pinto he was riding in was struck from behind at 28 mph. The driver of the vehicle was killed. During the suit against Ford, the lawyers uncovered evidence that Ford was fully aware of the defect in the Pinto and made a conscious decision to put its bottom line over the lives of innocent people. The result was one of the largest verdicts in American history to that point (although the trial court reduced the $125 million verdict to $3.5 million). Ford’s lies and deceptions had been revealed and 1980 prosecutors actually brought criminal charges against the company for the deaths of 3 teenagers who died in a horrific fiery crash as a result of the Pinto’s gas tank placement. Apparently, according to some observers, the case was just a little too complex for the jury to follow and they acquitted the company on the criminal charges.
PERSONAL INJURY LAWYERS MAKE A POSITIVE DIFFERENCE FOR THE AVERAGE AMERICAN
The point of this legal history lesson is this: without trial lawyers, the American public is often at the whim of big business. If Ford wants to you to drive time bombs then who’s going to stop them? The government sure didn’t do it. Some aggressive trial lawyers and a confident, ticked-off jury forced Ford to make the changes it needed to make. Trial lawyers are not ruining this country; we are helping to make it a better safer place and getting justice for victims along the way.