Court denies Ford's motion requesting instruction in liability case

By Gabriel Neves | Feb 7, 2019

MIAMI -- Automaker Ford has suffered a loss in court, after its motion requesting an adverse interference instruction on a liability case was denied.

U.S. District Judge Barry Seltzer, on the bench of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, issued an eight-page ruling Jan. 28, denying the motion in the lawsuit filed by Patrick Calhoune against Ford Motor Company. The court decided that Ford "has not established spoliation of evidence by the plaintiff or that the sanction of an adverse inference instruction is warranted in this case."

Calhoune sued Ford, alleging that he suffered an accident that was caused by one of the vehicles the company produces.

As stated in the ruling, "the accident occurred Sept. 21, 2015, while plaintiff was driving his 2006 Ford Mustang GT on Interstate 95." He " swerved to avoid striking a 'phantom' vehicle that made an improper lane

change and lost control of the vehicle," which " left the roadway and traveled onto the grass shoulder, where it overturned in a multiple roll event before coming to a final rest on its roof."

Calhoun sustained multiple injuries, including an amputation of his left arm.

The insurer of the car, Progressive, declared the vehicle "a total loss" almost two months after the crash.

Calhoun originally filed the suit at the Broward County Circuit Court, alleging , per the ruling, that "the vehicle was defective in that the vehicle’s air bag, seat belt, and rollover protection systems failed, due

to either a system malfunction or design defects."

After denying liability and alleging that evidence has been destroy, harming its defense, Ford moved to remove the case based on "diversity of citizenship."

In federal court, Ford alleged "it never had the opportunity to inspect the vehicle prior to the plaintiff’s transferring the title to Progressive and prior to the plaintiff’s filing suit."

In his ruling, Seltzer addressed the prejudice to the defendant, stating "even if the plaintiff were found to have acted in bad faith in not preserving the vehicle for inspection by Ford, the court concludes Ford is not unreasonably prejudiced by the unavailability of the vehicle."

The trial is scheduled for March.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida case number  0:17-cv-61702-CMA

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