Legal Analysis Grimshaw V Ford Motor Company

1449 Words Apr 21st, 2013 6 Pages
Legal Analysis
Grimshaw v. Ford Motor Company


In 1972 a Ford Pinto, purchased six months prior, unexpectedly stalled on the freeway in California. The Pinto was hit from behind by a Ford Galaxy, erupting into flames instantly. The driver of the car, Lilly Gray, suffered from fatal burns and died a few days later in the hospital. The passenger, a 13-year old boy named Richard Grimshaw, was also severely injured from burns, which caused his face and body to be permanently disfigured.

After analyzing the cause of the crash, experts identified that there were significant design deficiencies of the Pinto made by Ford Motor Company and the company was knowledgeable of these deficiencies before launching it into the market for
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Harley Copp was a key witness in this case. He was a senior engineer executive at Ford Motor Company and testified that senior management within the company was aware of the defects, was knowledgeable of the revised design to make the Pinto safer, but ultimately signed off on the original design and launched it into the market.

This case has been recognized as one of the top civil trials in the country.


The legal issue is: Should Ford Motor Company be liable for the car accident of it’s Ford Pinto which caused fatal burns to Lilly Gray and permanent burn injuries to Richard Grimshaw? Should Ford Motor Company pay historical punitive damages because of the car defects that the senior management was knowledgeable of before pushing it into the consumer market?

Legal Rules

Tort Law: A right of a private citizen to take legal action against an entity or human if harm has been caused. The issue within the legal action does not have to be against the law. The primary goal of tort law is to require financial compensation to the individuals that have been harmed and deter future similar actions to happen.

Negligence: This is a general category under tort law. It’s when a person or entity fails to act with care that is what we would define as a normal cautionary practice of care. It is being careless.

Strict Liability/Products Liability: One of three general categories under tort law.
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