Sorci v. Ford Motor Company


09/29/09 – 10/15/09


Products liability challenge to allegedly defective automobile seats.

According to the plaintiff, a pickup truck rear-ended the plaintiff's Ford Probe while trying to pass at 3:30 am on a dry road. The Probe left the road, hit a rock, and overturned.

The plaintiff suffered a burst compression fracture at T-12, and was paralyzed for life, even though the plaintiff was wearing a seat belt, the airbag deployed, and both vehicles were traveling at moderate speeds (30-40 miles per hour), and the collision forces were equivalent to 8 mph (rear-impact vehicle collision) and 20 mph (front-impact rock collision).

The plaintiff contended that the severe nature of the injury was due to unsafe seats in the Ford Probe. The seat allegedly was reclined at a normal 24 degrees before the collision, then deformed to 54 degrees during the event (dynamic deflection), and was reclined to 34-38 degrees after the accident (permanent deflection).

According to the plaintiff, the increased seat declination resulting from the first collision positioned the plaintiff's spine vulnerably so that it could not withstand the force from the second collision.

Defendants Ford and Mazda contended that the sole cause of the accident was the pickup driver's recklessness, and that the Probe driver's seat was properly designed and performed as intended, deflecting from 24 degrees to a maximum of 44 degrees before ending up at 34 degrees at the time of the second collision. According to the defendant, the seat's initial declination properly absorbed energy from the initial rear-end collision, and the angle of the seat back had nothing to do with the plaintiff's injury, which resulted from the subsequent collision with the rock.

By a 7-1 vote the jurors determined that the seat in the Ford Probe was not defective.


The jury determined that the seat was not defective.



Recording Disclaimer: This proceeding was recorded in full.

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