Explorer roll-over death leads to suit against Ford

Legal News Line Mar. 11, 2008, 9:27am

CHICAGO -- The estate of Barbara Griego, who died in 2006 when her 1999 Ford Explorer rolled over on an interstate, filed a products liability and wrongful death suit against Ford in the Circuit Court of Cook County in January 2008. Angelo B. Arnold, Griego's husband and the administrator of her estate, is represented by the Clifford Law Offices of Chicago. On June 20, 2006, according to the suit, Ms. Griego was driving on Interstate 25 in New Mexico when her right rear tire failed and the SUV rolled over, killing her. The 62-page, 14-count suit alleges that design and manufacturing defects in the 1999 Ford Explorer led it to be "unstable and prone to rollover," that its tires were "unsafe, unsuitable and unreasonably dangerous," and that the vehicle was "manufactured and sold with inadequate and unsafe standards of crash-worthiness." The complaint contains wrongful death and survival actions predicated on strict liability and negligence. In addition to Ford Motor Company, J.T. Auto Repair and Sales (Alsip, Illinois), River Oaks Ford, Inc. (Calumet City, Illinois), and Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. are named as defendants in the suit. J.T. Auto and River Oaks Ford each had roles in the distribution of the vehicle, while Cooper manufactured the allegedly faulty tire. Richard F. Burke, Jr. signed and filed the complaint for Clifford Law Offices. Clifford is one of Chicago's most prominent plaintiffs' firms, known for securing multimillion dollar verdicts and settlements in all varieties of tort claims. Most recently, the firm obtained $6 million for a woman whose breast was removed by doctors after a cancer misdiagnosis. Ford filed its answer on March 7, denying all allegations involving liability on its part. Ford is represented by Donohue Brown Mathewson & Smyth, LLC, of Chicago. The firm specializes in defense of products liability, professional liability, and mass tort/class action claims, among other areas. Cooper Tire filed its appearance on Feb. 21 and is represented by Williams Montgomery & John, Ltd., a Chicago defense firm with a wide array of corporate clients. The other named defendants have not filed appearances or answers to date. The matter is set for an initial case management hearing on May 21 in the Circuit Court of Cook County.

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