MIAMI (Nov. 14, 2001)—A Florida state court judge has reduced the jury award in a case involving Ford Motor Co., an allegedly faulty tire valve and a comatose girl, Ford said.
The total award is now $13 million—down from the previous $15.4 million. The original jury award in the 11th Judicial Circuit Court in Miami was $30.7 million, but that was halved because Phoebe Jimenez, the victim in the May 1999 crash, wasn't wearing a seat belt.
Ramon and Maria Jimenez were taking Phoebe to Disney World for her 10th birthday when the right rear tire on their rented Ford van failed. The vehicle spun out of control and rolled over, landing on Phoebe and causing permanent, severe brain damage.
Goodyear, the maker of the tire, was not cited in the case because the Jimenezes' attorneys alleged that Ford itself damaged the tire valve during factory installation.
The award reduction “is a reminder from the court that seat belts can help protect passengers only when they are worn,” a Ford spokeswoman said. The auto maker will decide later whether to pursue further appeals in the case, she added.