Caption: Grimshaw v. Ford Motor Company
Citation: California Court of Appeals, Fourth District, 1981 174 Cal. Rptr. 348
1. Ford developed a new model, later to be known as the pinto, changing the design drastically. 2. Ford discovered that the fuel tanks position was in a 'vulnerable place' and the car failed to met crash safety standards. 3. Ford was aware of the small cost to help the fuel tanks meet standards but refused to use them due to the slight delay in production that might occur and approved production of the prototype. 4. A 1972 Ford Pinto was involved in a rear ending when it unexpectedly stalled causing the care (presumably the fuel tank) to burst into flames. 5. A Mrs. Lilly Gray was died as result and her son 13 year-old Richard suffered severe and permanently disfiguring burns to his face and entire body.
1. Grimshaw sued the Ford Motor Company for punitive damages. 2. Grimshaw awarded damages in the amount of about $3.5 million. 3. Ford appeals punitive damages.
4. Appeal is denied and decision to award punitive damages up held.
1. Did Ford exhibit “malice” which is necessary to establish in order to award punitive damages? (Yes) 2. The punitive damages awarded are too high for current Californian law, is this unlawful? (No)
1. Malice has been also interpreted to mean “a conscious disregard of the probability that the actor's conduct will result injury to others.” 2. Although higher than monetary penalties under government regulations, the punitive damages are to prevent firms in the future from disregarding safety and possible negative consequences.
Rule of Law:
1. The primary reason for having and awarding punitive damages is to “punish and deter the conduct by wrongdoers and others.”
Your Response: I completely agree with the decision.