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Monthly Archives: May 2007

Have you lost your right to sue?

If you’ve bought a cell phone, computer, home or car, you may have forfeited rights to sue, as cited in your contract’s fine print. Consumer advocates say that’s not good for buyers.

Many companies force consumers into binding arbitration as opposed to traditional court proceedings through fine print in multi-page user agreements. In addition, many contracts contain forum selection clauses which force you to make claims in far away states. While businesses love arbitration and forum selection clauses, it’s often not the best deal for consumers. For more information, read the article from Bankrate.com which you can view by clicking here.

And, as always, don’t forget to check the fine print on any contract, or you may wind up giving away valuable consumer rights.

Florida jury returns seatbelt verdict against Ford

In Orlando Florida, a jury returned a verdict against Ford Motor Company for $32.5 million verdict on behalf of the plaintiff, Mark Force, and his family. Mr. Force suffered severe brain injuries in a 1996 car accident when a seat belt failed.

The case involved seatbelt spool out in a 1993 Ford Escort that allowed the Plaintiff to hit his head on the vehicle A-Pillar. Doctors removed 20% of his brain in order to save his life.

Ford put safety devices in the vehicle seatbelt in both Canada and Mexico, but not in the U.S. There were no similar claims or injuries in those countries, but numerous in the United States. Ford internal testing revealed that the retractor had experienced spool out prior to marketing the vehicle to the public.

This was the third trial for Mr. Force whose family filed the negligence suit in 1999. They lost the first trial in 2003, but an appeals court reversed the case because of faulty jury instructions. You can view that decision by clicking here. A second trial ended last year in a hung jury and no decision.

You can read the Orlando Sentinel story on the case by clicking here.