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In August of 2004 Ruben Zamora, 41, was severely injured when he was involved in a rollover accident in his 1993 Ford Explorer. Zamora lost control of the vehicle when the tread of one of the back tires separated causing the tail end of the SUV to swing sideways and resulted in the rollover. Zamora was ejected from the vehicle during the rollover. The previously disabled oilfield worker suffered severe brain damage will require care assistance for the rest of his life.

A state court jury in Cotulla, Texas, found the Explorer defective and awarded $10 million on Feb. 1. The jury found that Zamora was 35 percent responsible for the accident, leaving a verdict of $6.5 million against Ford, Neumann said.

Once the overwhelming leader in SUV sales the Ford Explorer was surpassed last year by Honda’s CRV and is currently the second most commonly purchased SUV. Sales dropped 23 percent from 2006 to 2007.

A Ford spokesperson, Marcey Evans, said that the company would appeal the verdict alleging that Zamora was not properly belted in when the crash occurred.

“It is unfair to blame Ford for this tragic accident or for Mr. Zamora’s injuries, which were caused by not being belted properly while losing control of his vehicle,” Evans said. “We think the verdict isn’t supported by the evidence.”

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