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The family of a New York Mets baseball prospect has been awarded a $131 million jury verdict against the Ford Motor Company. The Mississippi jury ordered Ford to pay after Brian Cole died in an rollover accident while driving an Explorer in 2001. Cole received especially high damages from the jury due to the nature of his profession.
Reuters reports that Ford blamed Firestone tires for blowouts and rollover accidents that caused the deaths of Explorer drivers. Ford denied allegations that the Explorer was particularly prone to rollovers. The automaker set aside $2.6 billion to replace 19.5 million Firestone tires and settled a number of wrongful death lawsuits.
Family attorney Tab Turner said that, after the jury returned its $131 million verdict, Ford came to a settlement agreement with the family for an undisclosed amount. Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans disputed the decision made by the jury, contending that the accident was the fault of Cole. She said he was driving over 80 mph and was not wearing his seat belt. She further stated that the family of Brian Cole only won the case because the judge excluded relevant evidence, Reuters reports.
That aside, it might seem odd that there would be a settlement after the verdict is already in. Why would the family of Brian Cole accept such an offer, and why would Ford make it?
The reason is that money up front always has a far greater value than the possibility of a larger recovery down the road. Ford could have spent time and money continuing the court battle by filing appeals and using other maneuvers to avoid paying the settlement. Instead, they likely offered a reduced amount to be paid promptly. Often times the smart choice is to take the money up front instead of fighting a continuing battle that can go on for years.