Bourke v. Ford Motor Company

January 2007

James M. Campbell and his team secured a defense verdict in a case involving the first ever challenge to the lack of electronic stability systems in the Ford Explorer.

It was certainly a tragic case, one in which the 21-year-old driver, a youth minister, lost his life. It was late at night and he and his wife were returning home from a trip in celebration of their anniversary. Their vehicle, a Ford Explorer, left the paved surface of the highway, and the driver attempted to steer it back onto the roadway. He overcorrected and lost control of the vehicle, causing it to roll over. The accident killed the unbelted driver, leaving his belted wife with minor injuries.

The plaintiff contended that Ford was negligent in its design of the 2000 Explorer and that the vehicle was unreasonably dangerous and defective. The specific claim of defect dealt with stability and absence of stability control.

Jim Campbell argued on behalf of Ford that the Explorer was well designed and that the driver’s negligent operation of the vehicle and loss of control because of fatigue caused the accident.

This case shows the importance of careful and painstaking preparation. In the course of thoroughly reviewing hundreds of tests and reports, we were able to show that the testimony of the plaintiff’s expert was full of holes. The devastating cross-examination of this witness is legendary and colleagues throughout the profession still contact the firm to learn from this example.


Campbell, James M.




Products Liability Defense



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