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June 15, 2005
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Jury Finds Ford not Liable in Death of Missouri Trooper

The Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo.- A jury found that Ford Motor Co. wasn't liable in the 2003 death of a Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper whose Crown Victoria was struck from behind and caught fire.

Jurors said Tuesday the guilty parties were the driver whose pickup truck slammed into Michael Newton's patrol car and the driver's employer, Trade Winds Distributing Inc.

They awarded $8.5 million in damages to Newton's family and a passenger in the patrol car who was severely burned.

The victims' families actually will get about $500,000 each, minus lawyer fees. A pretrial settlement capped Trade Winds' liability at near $1 million, the company said.

Attorneys for Newton's family and the passenger, Michael Nolte, had argued that the design of the Crown Victoria, with the fuel tank located between the rear bumper and the rear axle, partly contributed to the explosion.

Police agencies across the country have made similar claims. An Illinois jury ruled against the plaintiffs last fall in the first class-action lawsuit against Ford.

The Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker has maintained that the Crown Victoria is safe.

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