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Brian Cole's family awarded $131 million in lawsuit

Sep 2, 2010, 6:16 PM EDT

The family of former Mets prospect Brian Cole, who was killed in a one-car accident in 2001, was awarded a $131 million judgment against Ford Motor Company on Monday, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports.
Cole died from injuries sustained in a March 31, 2001 accident when his Ford Explorer veered off a Florida highway and rolled over.
In th lawsuit, which was being tried for a third time after two hung juries, 11 of the 12 jury members agreed with the verdict aganst Ford. The case was settled before the punitive phase for a confidential amount, attorney Ted Leopold told Rubin.
Ford Motor Company admitted no wrongdoing as part of the settlement.

“This was a tragic accident and our sympathy goes out to the Cole family for their loss, but it was unfair of them to blame Ford. Brian Cole had been driving over 80 mph when he drifted off road for unknown reasons, suddenly turned his steering wheel 295 degrees, lost control, and caused the vehicle to roll over more than three times. He was not wearing his safety belt and died after being ejected from the vehicle. His passenger, who was properly belted, walked away from the accident. The court denied Ford a fair trial by excluding evidence that the jury should have heard and considered about Brian’s driving and the speculative nature of plaintiffs’ claims.

Cole, a 5-foot-9, 168-pound center fielder, hit .301/.347/.494 with 69 steals between Single-A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton in 2000, earning him an invitation to major league spring training in 2001. He was just 21 at the time of the accident, and he was viewed as a very good prospect, though many were skeptical about how his power would hold up at higher levels. Baseball America rated him as the Mets’ No. 3 prospect in 2001 behind outfielder Alex Escobar and right-hander Pat Strange.

  1. buckeyeboy - Sep 2, 2010 at 8:47 PM

    it kinda seems to me that the kid did something stupid in the drivers seat and died from it, i dont see how it was fords fault…..that being said my prayers go out to his family, rest in peace

  2. randall351 - Sep 3, 2010 at 8:31 AM

    Only in America can you sue a car company and win, even though it was clearly operator error. This falls under the same category as suing McDonald’s because you burnt yourself on their coffee, completely ridiculous.

  3. ralphdibny - Sep 3, 2010 at 8:32 AM

    Matthew,
    By only quoting Ford, you give a very one-sided account of the trial. As the ESPN story indicates, Cole’s family claims that he was wearing a seat belt, and was not driving at an unsafe speed. The jury obviously found the family’s version of events more persuasive.

  4. murd - Sep 3, 2010 at 8:40 AM

    I hate to comment on stuff like this but I kind of agree. Sounds like the seat belt could have saved his life, and Ford didn’t make him not wear his seat belt.

  5. Jonny5 - Sep 3, 2010 at 9:17 AM

    This just shows how much us American hate people with tons of money. Same as the McDonalds hot coffee deal.

  6. BC - Sep 3, 2010 at 9:28 AM

    Read the article below. Ford just wanted to get out of the thing. It was the THIRD trial, and they’d spent way into eight digits in legal fees. AND, they stood to get crushed if the proceedings went to the next phase. It was, cut your losses, admit no guilt, and run.
    http://www.mslitigationreview.com/tags/brian-cole-lawsuit/

  7. gerryb323 - Sep 3, 2010 at 10:21 AM

    Google “Ford Rollover”….they’ve had problems

  8. BleedGreen - Sep 3, 2010 at 3:18 PM

    Those problems were due to firestone tires though. Doesn’t matter what tires you have on your car, if you’re doing 80, drift off the road and over-correct by turning the wheel almost a full turn while off the road in anything bigger than an MG, you’re going to roll.

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