SAN FRANCISCO – A federal appeals court Tuesday nullified a $69.1 million damages award to a Nevada couple who said their 3-year-old son was killed by a Ford truck because of a defective parking brake.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Ford's liability, but said the jury should have been told the amount of the punitive damages was not meant to punish Ford for how parking brake systems may have affected people everywhere.
The court said the damages were only meant to punish Ford for what happened in Nevada.
Walter White of Elko, Nev., climbed into his family's 1993 Ford F-350 pickup truck and fell or jumped out in 1994. He was killed when the truck rolled over him as it went down the driveway.
Jimmie and Ginnie White argued at trial that Ford knew about the defect in the parking brake mechanism, but didn't warn consumers. They were awarded $150.8 million in 1998, but the court lowered the amount to $69.1 million.
A month after the boy died, Ford recalled 884,000 pickup trucks and SUVs to repair the parking brake mechanisms. The Whites got their recall notice the next March.
Shanin Specter, the attorney for the Whites, said they would probably appeal.