American Association for Justice President Discusses How Litigation Advances Vehicle Safety

By Peter DePaolis

American Association for Justice (AAJ) President Gibson Vance says litigation has played a crucial role in consumer safety and manufacturer accountability in the auto industry. Gibson said that litigation and the civil justice system have, “served as the most consistent and powerful forces in heightening safety standards, revealing previously concealed defects and regulatory weaknesses and deterring manufacturers from cutting corners on safety for the goal of greater profits.”

Gibson cited the Ford Pinto case specifically when he said, “Had compliance with federal standards been a complete defense of vehicle safety, Ford could not have been held accountable for the many burn victims that the company was later shown to have anticipated.” He further added that the auto industry’s effort to limit its liability and skirt regulations is “devastating for consumers.”

The Ford Pinto was a subcompact car produced by Ford from 1971 to 1980. The Pinto’s defective fuel system design made the vehicle susceptible to fires and explosions in rear-end collisions. Twenty-seven people died from the product defect.

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About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.