Post trial motions to be heard in $43 million Ford verdict

Steve Gonzalez Aug. 15, 2005, 8:07pm

Bradley Lakin

Jim Feeney

Plaintiff's attorneys Charles Chapman and Bradley Lakin, who won a $43 million verdict against Ford in April for client Dora Jablonski, will be face-to-face once again with defense attorney Jim Feeney in Madison County Circuit Court.

The two sides will meet in Judge Andy Matoesian's third-floor courtroom for post trial motions on Aug. 22.

Jablonski was severely burned when her stationary Lincoln Town Car burst into flames after being struck by Natalie Ingram, who was allegedly distracted while searching for her sunglasses. Jablonski's husband perished in the crash.

Matoesian dismissed Ingram from the suit, and Ford was forced to go to trial as sole defendant.

After the verdict, Jim Feeney told The Record"The jury instructions in my opinion changed Illinois law," Feeney said. "If you give someone incorrect directions they are going to get lost."

Ford spokesman Doug Lampe said that Madison County Circuit Court changed Illinois law after the fact by ruling that the auto manufacturer should have warned Jablonski about the possibility of an event that never happened in the Town Car, more than 10 years after Ford first sold the car. Jablonski owned a used vehicle.

"The court's creation of new law creates an impossible standard to implement, and again demonstrates the need for tort reform in Madison County, Illinois," Lampe said.

"Punitive damages should never have been an issue in this case," Feeney added.

"I want to make it clear that I believe in the jury system," he said. "My client, Ford Motor Co., believes in the jury system. This particular jury worked hard to get it right."

"However, the jury was not allowed to allocate responsibility.

Feeney believes that the responsible party was Ingram.

"No one denies this was a tragedy," Feeney said. "It's a regrettable tragedy."

Feeney is an attorney with Dykema Gossett in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

After deliberating for four hours a jury returned the following damages:

For John Jablonski:

  • $67,715.20 for medical expenses
  • $500,000 for disfigurement and disability
  • $1,000,000 for pain and suffering
  • $3,500,000 for loss of society

    Total $5,067,715.20

    For Dora Jablonski:

  • $1,700,000 for medical care (past and future)
  • $1,900,000 for medical assistance (past and future)
  • $6,500,000 for disability
  • $6,500,000 for pain and suffering
  • $6,500,000 for disfigurement

    Total: $23,100,000

    Punitive damages: $15,000,000

    Grand total: $43,167,715.20

    Attorney Bradley Lakin had asked for $10 million each for disability, pain and suffering and disfigurement but was happy with the jury's verdict.

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