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MAY 17 - Savannah-Atlanta Attorneys’ $40 Million Judgment One of 2009’s Largest

SBJ Special Report

Local attorneys Jeff Harris, Darren Penn and Stephen Lowry of Harris, Penn & Lowry, LLP, with offices in Savannah and Atlanta, secured one of the largest verdicts of 2009, according to the recently released VerdictSearch report.

The attorney’s $40 million award in the case of Mundy v. Ford Motor Company and Legacy Ford Mercury, Inc, tried in DeKalb County in April of 2009 was the 45th largest verdict of 2009, according to the national report.

The outcome puts the firm at the top of the heap for Georgia – securing the single biggest verdict in the state for 2009 as well as one of the largest personal injury decisions in its history.

The $40 million judgment “forces Ford and other auto makers to look carefully at their processes, safety standards and, ultimately, affect change that will benefit thousands of consumers annually,” according to Harris. “In fact, during the trial, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation to test the failures in Ford Explorers demonstrated in this case.”

Jessica Mundy, a 24 year old accountant, was paralyzed after being run over by the front left tire of her 2004 Ford Explorer outside a post office in McDonough, about 30 miles south of Atlanta. Harris, Penn & Lowry (HPL) successfully argued that the incident arose as a result of a defect in the 2004 Explorer’s transmission, creating a condition known as “false park.”

The jury heard evidence of 751 complaints regarding Ford vehicles shifting themselves into reverse after being seemingly stable in park. “There is a space between park and reverse where the gear can get hung up and allow the vehicle to move back into reverse,” explained Harris. “The driver believes she is set in park then the SUV begins to roll.”

Each year, people are seriously injured or killed as a result of faulty products, corporations cutting corners or a lack of adherence to industry safety standards. The partners at HPL are quick to point out that the purpose behind their work is to protect and inform consumers, assist those who have been hurt and hold negligent organizations liable.

“Without going to trial, clearly demonstrating the facts of the Mundy case and, ultimately winning, Georgians wouldn’t be aware of the false park issue,” said Lowry.

“Ford knew about the problem and could have corrected it for under $20 per vehicle, they simply didn’t do it. Civil juries have the power to make a significant difference when companies don’t do the right thing. It sends a very clear message,” he said
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