American Lawyer Media has published its annual guide to the top verdicts in the U.S. from the previous year, and Langdon & Emison’s victory in a California jury trial was selected as one of those included in this most recent edition. Cynthia Castillo v. Ford Motor Company et al.
Information for the “VerdictSearch Top 100 Verdicts” product comes from ALM’s Verdict Search service. Bob Langdon was the lead attorney in this verdict in the Superior Court of California, which yielded a $23.4 million verdict against Ford Motor Company on behalf of a single mother who suffered permanent injuries as a result of a 2007 accident.
The firm’s client filed a lawsuit against Ford in this case, as well as the companies who manufactured and installed the tires on her 1997 Ford Explorer. Her lawsuit was based on a tragic car accident caused when the left rear tire on her vehicle “de-treaded” on a California freeway and the vehicle instantly became unstable and uncontrollable, forcing the Explorer to run off the freeway and roll down a steep embankment.
The accident knocked Ms. Castillo unconscious and she suffered brain damage. Just 38 years old at the time of the incident, she is now a quadriplegic, fully dependent on 24/7 care for the remainder of her life. Instead of being the caregiver for her young daughter, her child became one of her mom’s caregivers.
In her lawsuit, Ms. Castillo argued that the accident was caused by hidden handling defects in the Explorer. At trial, Mr. Langdon, Adam W. Graves and Phyllis Norman of Langdon & Emison and Daniel T. DeFeo of the DeFeo Law Firm, presented evidence that high level management at Fords world headquarters in Dearborn, Mich. were aware of similar wrecks caused by hidden handling defects.
Specifically, they introduced evidence showing that Ford spent $3.5 million correcting the defect in Venezuela, but chose to ignore the fix recommended by its own engineers and not to spend the $500 million needed to fix the Explorers in North America.
After a six-week trial and more than three days of deliberations, the California jury in the case reached a unanimous verdict finding the Ford Explorer to be defective. The jury awarded Ms. Castillo $13.4 million for medical care and future life needs and another $10 million for her pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.