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Mom and Wife Killed by Unstable SUV Rollover
Randy Burns, Sr. Individually and as next friend of Raven Burns and Juwan Burns, all as Wrongful Death Beneficiaries of Joanne Burns; Randy Burns as Representative of the Estate of Joanne Burns, Randy Burns, Jr. v. Ford Motor Co.
157th Judicial District of Texas, Harris County. The Honorable Randy Wilson presiding.
Plaintiff Attorneys: Chad Points and Tony Denena, Denena & Points, P.C., Houston, Texas
Defense Attorneys: Michael P. Lyons & Sawnie A. McEntire, Beirne, Maynard & Parsons, L.L.P., Dallas, Texas. Bradley Peterson, Snell & Wilmer, Phoenix, AZ.
Facts & Allegations:
Plaintiif Randy Burns, Sr. 44, was driving the family 2000 Ford Explorer on IH10 approaching the I10 and I45 interchange near downtown Houston. In the Ford Explorer were Burns’ wife, Joanne, 43, and the minor children, Raven 11 and Juwan, 8. A car drove in front of Burns, cutting him off. When Burns maneuvered to avoid striking the vehilce, the Explorer began to go into a yaw – or fishtail – and Burns was unable to bring the vehicle under control. The Explorer lacked a technologically feasible electronic stability control system.
Joanne Burns was sitting in the middle row seat directly behind the driver seat. The roof of the Ford Explorer did not maintain the occupant space, the seatbelt system did not keep Mrs. Burns inside the occupant compartment. As a result her head and the rest of her upper torso were unprotected from the ground and the vehicle during the roll sequence and she was killed.
The Burns family went to another lawyer. That lawyer promptly contaced Chad Points of Denena & Points, PC to prosecute the case against Ford Motor Co. After our investigation revealed defects in the Ford Explorer were the real cause of Mrs. Burns’ tragic death we sued Ford Motor Co.
We alleged the the Ford Explorer was a defectively designed vehicle because of roll and directional instability. We also allged and proved, the Ford Explorer was not reasonably crashworthy because the roof structure failed to maintain its shape and left Mrs. Burns unprotected from the accident forces.
Ford argued the 2000 Explorer was a sound vehicle and the rollover was due to an over-correction by Mr. Burns.
As always, Ford requested and recieved full confidentiality over the amount of the settlement so we cannot report it; however, the family was very happy with the settlement. Although no amount of money could ever replace Joanne, the Burns did their part toward making all cars safer for all of us. The settlement proceeds allocated to Juwan and Raven were structured in a secure investment that will provide them an income stream well into their adult lives.