Following 2 ½ weeks of trial in a Philadelphia courtroom, attorneys Alan M. Feldman, Daniel J. Mann, and Edward S. Goldis arrived at a substantial settlement in an auto defect/crashworthiness case. The plaintiff, a 59-year-old plant supervisor, was operating his 1987 Ford F150 pickup truck in March 2005. While stopped to make a left-hand turn, his vehicle was rear-ended by a minivan at about 30 mph. The impact caused the plaintiff’s head and neck to hyperextend rearward, breaking through the rear window of the truck’s cab. As a result, the plaintiff suffered immediate and permanent spinal cord injuries.
At trial, one of the principal issues was whether Ford could be faulted for not including headrests or integral head restraints in its 1987 light trucks in order to prevent hyperextension injuries, even though federal law did not require such safety features in trucks until 1991. Feldman, Mann, and Goldis retained a team of the country’s top auto safety experts, who demonstrated that in fact the safety benefits of head restraints had been well known to the automotive industry since the 1960s. Other evidence included Ford’s own marketing materials for its 1987 models, which touted the safety benefits provided by head restraints in both cars and trucks. Feldman Shepherd lawyers also made extensive use of computer animations and crash test videos to assist in explaining this complex case to the jury.
At the conclusion of the trial testimony, the case was settled for a confidential amount, which is projected to relieve the plaintiff and his family from any future financial concerns. The case is believed to be one of the few cases involving a failure to include head restraints ever tried in the United States.