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Ford Settles Explorer Suit Involving Mets Baseball Player

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On: Wed, Sep 8, 2010 at 12:42PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Ford Settles Explorer Suit Involving Mets Baseball Player

In automotive headlines recently, Ford Motor Co. settled a lawsuit regarding a roll-over accident involving a Ford Explorer that caused the death of New York Mets minor league baseball player, Brian Cole. Ford was ordered to pay $132 million to Cole’s estate.

Brian Cole went to Meridian High School and was a  baseball player in 1998 at Navarro Junior College in Texas. He was selected by the Mets in 1998 amateur draft and turned down a football scholarship to Florida State. Cole was single, the youngest in the family of 5 siblings, he was pronounced dead at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Tallahassee, Florida.

Cole was 27 when he was ejected from a Ford Explorer as a result of a March, 2001 accident while he was driving home from spring training with the Mets. Tab Turner, attorney for the family of Brian Cole, stated that Jasper County, Missouri “awarded the verdict today and the case was settled on confidential terms before punitive damages could be considered.”

Turner said the family brought 2 claims to court: one was that the Explorer rolled in the first place as a result of being unstable, and the second was that the seat belts did not function properly. "That permitted Brian Cole to be thrown out of the car during the rollover despite being belted," according to Turner.

Attorneys for Ford blamed speeding and reckless driving for the accident, stating that the vehicle was being driven at 80 mph. "Brian Cole had been driving over 80 mph when he drifted off road for unknown reasons, suddenly turned his steering wheel 295 degrees, lost control, and caused the vehicle to roll over more than three times."

The jury also awarded $1.5 million to Cole's cousin, Ryan, who was injured in the accident.

Marcey Evans, spokesperson for Ford, was quoted as saying: “Brian Cole was not wearing his safety belt, his passenger, who was properly belted, walked away from the accident. Cole had been traveling at more than 80 miles an hour before drifting off the road and losing control of the Explorer.”

Cole was playing for the minor leagues as an outfielder and, according to Turner, “He had been player of the year in the Mets organization." The family felt that Cole was just steps from becoming a major league player.

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