Ford-tough legal team due in Madison County

Steve Gonzalez Nov. 9, 2004, 9:02am

Ford Motor Co.'s lawsuit-toughened legal team will be in the Metro-East again defending against plaintiff Kyle James' who claims a seatbelt malfunction caused him debilitating injuries. He is seeking in excess of $50,000 from Ford.

"There is no history of seatbelt malfunction on the Ford F-150,” according to Ford spokesperson, Kathleen Vokes.

James, who filed suit in Madison County Circuit Court Nov. 8, states that while a belted passenger in a Ford F-150 truck driven by Joshua Clark, he was ejected from the middle passenger seat through the vehicle's window. The accident took place July 31 on Illinois 143 in Madison County when Clark's vehicle impacted with oncoming traffic.

The two-count suit also seeks to recover more than $50,000 from the driver, Clark. James alleges Clark was negligent when he crossed the center line, which caused the pickup truck to be struck by oncoming traffic and spin about.

Represented by Belleville attorney Bruce Cook, James alleges that when the truck was manufactured by Ford it was defective and unreasonably dangerous in the following ways:

    The seatbelt opened in a collision;
    It was defectively designed in that its seatbelt could come open in an accident;
    It was defectively manufactured in that it seatbelt opened during an accident; and
    The pickup was not equipped with appropriate restraints to protect James in a frontal collision.

James claims he received a closed head injury, a fractured skull and body, injuries to his vision and disfiguring scars. As a result he has lost his ability to pursue his normal gainful occupation and is liable for large sums of medical care and rehabilitation.

The auto giant was in St. Clair County recently defending its Crown Victoria vehicles used as police cars. A jury returned a favorable verdict for Ford in just two hours in that case.

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