(CN) – The Supreme Court on Monday declined to disturb an $82.6 million award — the largest upheld by a California state court — to a woman who was paralyzed after her 1997 Ford Explorer rolled over on the highway.
Ford Motor Co. challenged the $55 million punitive damage portion of the award, which has since ballooned to $87 million with interest.
Plaintiff Benetta Buell-Wilson crushed her back in June 2002 when she swerved to avoid an object on the highway, and her SUV flipped 4.5 times.
The vehicle’s flawed design made it prone to rolling, her lawyers argued.
Ford fought to have the award overturned or reduced, arguing that car makers “are routinely exposed to massive punitive damage awards without regard to whether they had notice sufficient to allow them to comply with the law and avoid punishment.”
Without comment, the justices declined to take up the case, leaving in tact the record award.