TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Friday, October 20, 2006

South Texas Practice

An interesting story from the Center for Individual Freedom, which is, as the name suggests, a generally business- and defense-oriented organization, something that should be kept in mind.  The opening:

On Valentine's Day 2005, a civil trial opened in Crystal City, Texas, that would become notorious in the legal community but receive scant attention outside the state.

Rosanna Garcia et al versus Ford Motor Company et al, Cause No. 03-06-10755-ZCVAJA, matched an impoverished, closely knit community of 8,000 against a corporate mammoth, Ford Motor Company, the nation's No. 2 automaker.

The trial should have been about drunken driving, high speed and the tragic traffic deaths of two teen-agers.  It should have been held under a different judge in another venue. Instead, allegations of improper conduct by officers of the court focused the proceedings on purported shenanigans to deliver millions of dollars to a prominent local family and its attorneys.

The allegations included tales of jury tampering, collusion and witness intimidation. Ford attorneys would call the trial "one of the most bizarre legal proceedings in recent history."  Yet, these reports were never publicly investigated by state police, the State Bar of Texas or the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct. The trial ended with the largest non-economic damages ever awarded in Texas to a parent for the wrongful death of a child. The total judgment by the jury was $31 million. The case was later settled for an undisclosed amount, although elements of the lawsuit are still pending.

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