After 11 out of 12 jurors agreed that Ford Motor Co. was at fault for the car accident that left 22-year old Brian Cole dead, they agreed to a settlement with the minor league baseball player's family. Ford agreed to pay $131 million to the family before the jury could decided on any punitive damages.
Cole, a New York Mets AA player, was returning home from spring training in March, 2001 in his Ford Explorer Sport, when it veered off the Florida highway and rolled over. Cole was ejected from the vehicle and incurred serious injuries, which he later succumbed to at Saint Luke's Hospital.
In the case, Cole's family alleged that the Ford Explorer he drove was unstable and did not perform to the way in which it was marketed. Additionally, they believe that there was sufficient evidence that Cole was wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident, and that the Ford's defective seat belt failed to prevent him from being thrown from the vehicle.