PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. And LAUREL, Miss.—Today a jury awarded Gregory Cole $131 million in the retrial of his case against Ford Motor Company, which does not include punitive damages. Attorneys for Cole argued that a defective seat belt loosened during a rollover accident and caused the death of his baseball player son, Brian, in 2001, when the younger Cole was driving his father’s Ford Explorer from Florida to Mississippi to return the vehicle to him after spring training.
Brian Cole was a promising 22 year old outfielder and New York Mets prospect at the time of his death. It is the third trial for Cole vs. Watson Quality Ford. The case resulted in a hung jury in February of this year.
Cole and his 17 year old cousin, Ryan, were traveling westbound on State Highway 8, near the Florida-Georgia border, when a car veered into their lane and Cole swerved to avoid it, losing control of the Explorer, which rolled over, his lawyers argued, due to the vehicle’s faulty design. He was then thrown from the vehicle despite having his seat belt properly fastened, which, according to Mr. Cole’s attorneys, is a widely disputed problem in Ford SUVs in addition to the alleged rollover tendency, especially when a tire has blown.