— A West Virginia jury has ordered Ford to pay $7 million over a Ford Mustang crash that killed 19-year-old Breanna Kristen Bumgarner in March 2016.
Also included in the lawsuit filed by Bumgarner's mother, Angel Tyler, are the driver of the Toyota truck which crossed the center line, Anna Errickson, and her mother and father, Mark and Kristen Errickson.
Anna Errickson was a minor at the time of the crash.
Breanna Bumgarner was driving the 2014 Ford Mustang on Highway 33 when an oncoming 1989 Toyota pickup truck left the road, overcorrected, crossed the center line and slammed into the driver's side A-pillar of the 2014 Mustang at about 59 mph.
Breanna Bumgarner was trapped in the Mustang which caught fire, and the lawsuit alleges she died from the fire caused by the defective Ford Mustang.
The lawsuit claims Bumgarner was killed because the brake fluid reservoir ruptured and leaked brake fluid which ignited and caused the fire.
In addition to the allegedly defective Ford Mustang brake fluid reservoir, attorneys for the plaintiff told the jury Bumgarner was killed because Ford used the wrong steel to build the Mustang's safety cage.
Ford Argues It Didn't Cause Bumgarner's Death
Ford's arguments were fairly simple. The driver of the Toyota truck that crossed the center line and slammed into Bumgarner's 2014 Ford Mustang was responsible for the crash and Bumgarner's death.
The Mustang lawsuit referenced a 2011 crash test to allege Ford knew a certain type of crash could possibly cause damage to the brake fluid reservoir, a claim Ford said was absurd.
Ford argued the 2011 crash test had nothing to do with the real-world crash that killed Bumgarner.
According to Ford, the small overlap crash test is conducted with a stationary rigid barrier, not a moving truck heading out of control toward a 2014 Mustang at an angle.
Ford argued the small overlap test simulates the front corner of the car striking a rigid pole, not a car-to-car crash as occurred in the Bumgarner crash.
Ford said the Bumgarner Mustang was hit at the driver-side hinge pillar at an angle of 40 degrees, a completely different crash scenario than the Mustang crash test performed in 2011.
According to the automaker, Bumgarner had no chance of escape not because the Mustang design was defective, but because the door was completely jammed after the 3,500-pound Toyota truck slammed into the driver-side door hinge pillar at an angle while traveling 59 miles per hour.
In crash testing performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the 2014 Ford Mustang earned an overall safety rating of 4 stars out of a possible 5 stars.
Even though federal safety regulators have never found the 2014 Ford Mustang defective and the car met or exceeded all federal safety standards, the jury ruled the car had defects.
The jury found Ford was 99% at fault for Bumgarner’s death, and the driver of the truck was only 1% at fault.
The Breanna Bumgarner Ford Mustang lawsuit was filed in the Kanawha County Circuit Court of West Virginia: Angel Ellen Tyler vs. Ford Motor Company et al.