A Cobb County, Georgia, jury has returned a $3 million verdict against Ford Motor Co. in the death of a woman whose seat back broke when her Ford Tempo was struck from the rear.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time a seat back in a Ford Tempo has failed. There have been more than 70 lawsuits against Ford over how the back of the Tempo’s front seat breaks from its mountings and falls backward in rear-end accidents.

Ford has known for a long time that the design of the seat is defective. The Tempo model was manufactured from 1984 to 1994. The jury awarded the victim’s adult children compensatory damages in the case, but no punitive damages.

Ford claimed at trial that the seats were designed to yield to protect front-seat passengers by absorbing the energy of a rear-end crash and to protect rear passengers from being driven into an “overly rigid” seat back in frontal impact collisions.

The carmaker claimed that the severity of the crash killed the 76-year-old woman in 2002. The Tempo was struck in the rear by a truck hauling crushed gravel, and the car went down a steep embankment. The occupant of the Tempo was hospitalized with spinal and head injuries and died 23 days later. Pete Law and Mike Moran, who are with the Atlanta firm of Peter A. Law P.C., and Columbus lawyer Peter J. Daughtery represented the woman’s family in the case.

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