Firefighter works to extinguish fire engulfing vehicle in flames

$7 Million Verdict Reached in Vehicle Fire Death Case Against Ford

A Kanawha County, West Virginia, jury ruled in favor of Beasley Allen’s client, Angel Ellen Tyler, whose daughter, Breanna Kristen Bumgarner, was killed in a car fire after a crash while driving a defective 2014 Ford Mustang. Tyler was represented by Beasley Allen lawyers Graham Esdale, Mike Andrews and Preston Moore and Danny Cline and Brian Bigelow from Farmer, Cline, and Campbell, PLLC in West Virginia.

On March 22, 2016, Bumgarner was driving the 2014 Ford Mustang West on U.S. Highway 33 when her vehicle was struck by the driver defendant Anna Morgan Errickson who was driving in the opposite direction. Errickson inadvertently drove off the highway and overcorrected, crossing the centerline and striking our client’s Mustang and rupturing the brake fluid reservoir. Shortly after impact, the brake fluid ignited, and a car fire started in the engine compartment of the Ford Mustang. Bumgarner was trapped in the vehicle by the collapse of the safety cage. Despite the efforts of numerous good samaritans, Bumgarner could not be extricated. The engine compartment fire moved rapidly into the occupant compartment as the Mustang has no firewall. The car fire consumed her as bystanders stood by helplessly. Despite suffering only minor injuries in the crash, Bumgarner died as a result of the fire.

Ford Held Accountable for Car Fire Death

“Ford knowingly concealed vital information about the fire hazard of the vehicle they manufactured,” Beasley Allen attorney Graham Esdale said. “They failed to address the defect or provide adequate safety measures to protect the driver’s compartment in the event of a fire. It was an honor to represent this family and ensure that Ford was held accountable for this needless and tragic loss of a young life.”

While the defendant driver’s negligence led to the crash, the victim died due to injuries sustained from the post-crash car fire caused by Ford’s defective vehicle. The plaintiff’s claims against Ford included product liability, breach of an implied warranty, negligence, and willful, wanton and reckless misconduct regarding vehicle safety. The lawsuit included a negligence claim against the defendant driver Anna Errickson, for her part in the tragic event. The jury apportioned fault at 99% to Ford and 1% to Anna Errickson.

“We are happy to provide the victim’s family with the closure they deserve and hold Ford accountable for their actions to prevent this from happening to other families,” said Brian Bigelow with Farmer Cline, and Campbell, PLLC.

The case is Angel Ellen Tyler vs. Ford Motor Company et al., case number 18-C-182, filed in Kanawha County, West Virginia.

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