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Torts keyed to Best
Denny v. Ford Motor Co.
Citation:639 N.Y.S.2d 250 (N.Y. 1995)
Plaintiff was severely injured on June 9, 1986 when the Ford Bronco II she was driving rolled over. The accident occured when plaintiff slammed on the brakes to avoid hitting a deer who walked directly in front of the vehicle’s path.
The Ford Bronco II is designed and manufactured by defendant as a utility vehicle. A utility vehicle is typically meant for ‘off-road’ purposes and going through rugged terrain. The Ford Bronco II is specifically a ‘small utility vehicle’ which is lighter, has better fuel economy, and generally appeals to a wider consumer market than larger utility vehicles.
At trial, plaintiff showed that the Ford Bronco II had 1) a significantly higher risk of rollover accidents than ordinary passenger vehicles, 2) a low stability index due to a high center of gravity, and 3) that defendant had made minor design changes to improve the stability, but those changes did not result in a significant difference.
At trial, plaintiff also showed a marketing manual produced by defendant, This manual discussed the Bronco II’s appeal as a suburban vehicle fit for commuting. The Bronco II was able to switch between 2- and 4-wheel drive, which was particularly appealing to “women who may be concerned about driving in snow and ice with their children.”
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