Ford Motor Co. and two Alton car dealerships face a lawsuit that seeks more than $1 million after plaintiffs allege a defectively manufactured vehicle caused the deaths of a couple in a fiery car crash.

Beth Brimer and Ronald Thorp filed a lawsuit Nov. 30 in Madison County Circuit Court against Ford, Roberts Ford and Roberts Motors.

In their complaint, the plaintiffs allege Nicole and Chad Thorp were riding in a 2007 Ford Edge on Dec. 20, 2009, when their vehicle veered from the road, flipped over and caught on fire.

The fire quickly spread after the lid on a fuel pump became unfastened, allowing fuel to spew into the passenger compartment inside the vehicle, according to the complaint.

Before their deaths, Nicole and Chad Thorp suffered severe pain, the suit states. They died in the fire, leaving behind a son, the complaint says.

As a result of his parents' deaths, the unnamed child has lost his mother's and father's society, love, affection, care, attention, companionship, comfort, guidance and financial support, the plaintiffs claim.

The plaintiffs blame the defendants for causing the Thorps' deaths, saying Ford defectively designed the lid of the fuel pump, which is not able to withstand temperatures caused in a fire.

"The vehicle was defectively designed and/or manufactured such that the fuel pump module access cover is fastened to the floor of the passenger compartment with the plastic push pins that lack adequate strength to withstand forces created in a roll-over accident, thereby permitting the fuel pump to be ejected into the passenger compartment, releasing gasoline into the vehicle," the suit states.

In their 24-count complaint, the plaintiffs seek a judgment of more than $1.2 million, plus costs.

Gregory A. Becker and Matthew R. Chapman of Becker, Schroader and Chapman in Granite City will be representing them.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 11-L-1271.

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