Zeolla v. Ford Motor Company

February 2004

James M. Campbell and David M. Rogers of Campbell Campbell Edwards & Conroy obtained a full defense verdict in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts in Zeolla v. Ford Motor Company, a matter involving the rollover of a 2004 Ford Expedition.

Mario Zeolla was a third-row passenger in the Expedition when it unfortunately collided with a median barrier which initiated a three-quarter roll. Mr. Zeolla was not wearing his seatbelt and was ejected and sustained fatal injuries. The plaintiff Christine Zeolla claimed the absence of fixed as opposed to moveable tempered glass windows and a rollover activated side curtain airbag in the third row seating positions rendered the Expedition unreasonably dangerous and defective and that these defects were the cause of her husband’s ejection from the vehicle and death. Ford argued that even if the vehicle was equipped with fixed tempered glass windows and rollover activated side curtain airbags, Mr. Zeolla likely would have been ejected and died because he was not wearing his seatbelt and he was ejected during the median barrier impact before the rollover began. Also, Ford argued that it was not possible to have extended the side curtain airbag into the third row of the 2004 model year Expedition due to various technological hurdles. Ford demonstrated that the Expedition was reasonably safe as designed, that Ford was the first in the world to develop safety canopy technology, and was actively working to implement the system into the third row of the Expedition. It also demonstrated that if Mr. Zeolla had been wearing his seatbelt, he would not have been ejected from the vehicle. After the three-week trial, the jury deliberated for a day and a half and returned a verdict for Ford finding that the Expedition was not unreasonably dangerous and defective and that Ford was not negligent.

James M. Campbell served as lead trial counsel for Ford Motor Company in this case. David M. Rogers served as co-counsel.


Campbell, James M.




Products Liability Defense




United States District Court of Massachusetts


Zeolla v. Ford Motor Company

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