Friedman, Toman, and Garten Co-Author Amicus Curiae Brief for GDLA in Product Liability Crashworthiness Case

April 1, 2024

On April 1, 2024, Partners Jonathan (“Johnny”) R. Friedman, Gary J. Toman, and Associate Chris Garten co-authored an Amicus Curiae Brief on behalf of the Georgia Defense Lawyers Association (“GDLA”) before the Georgia Court of Appeals in Ford Motor Company v. Kim Hill and Adam Hill, Appeal No. A24A0657.

Hill is a vehicle crashworthiness case arising from an April 3, 2014, accident involving a Ford F-250 Super Duty Pickup (the "F-250"). At the trial court level, plaintiffs in Hill argued that the design and manufacture of the F-250’s roof was defective and unreasonably dangerous because its roof collapsed during a violent rollover, causing the death of plaintiffs’ decedents. According to plaintiffs, Ford knew of the alleged defect but refused to rectify it. 

After declaring a mistrial, the trial court issued a sanctions order which precluded Ford from presenting key evidence and argument of the alleged product defect, proximate cause, potential fault of plaintiffs’ decedents, and whether punitive damages were warranted. The jury in the second trial subsequently awarded plaintiffs $16 million for wrongful death, $8 million for pain and suffering, $22,500 for loss of the F-250, $16,000 for funeral expenses, and $1.7 billion in punitive damages against Ford. 

GDLA’s Amicus Curiae Brief focuses on two critical issues: (1) the trial court’s decision to preclude Ford from presenting evidence of comparative fault under O.C.G.A. § 51-12-33(a) and (2) the trial court’s exclusion of evidence of seatbelt misuse under O.C.G.A. § 40-8-76.1(d). 

The Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in this case on June 18, 2024. 

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