The family of former Mets prospect Brian Cole, who was killed in a one-car accident in 2001, was awarded a $131 million judgment against Ford Motor Company on Monday, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports.
Cole died from injuries sustained in a March 31, 2001 accident when his Ford Explorer veered off a Florida highway and rolled over.
In th lawsuit, which was being tried for a third time after two hung juries, 11 of the 12 jury members agreed with the verdict aganst Ford. The case was settled before the punitive phase for a confidential amount, attorney Ted Leopold told Rubin.
Ford Motor Company admitted no wrongdoing as part of the settlement.
“This was a tragic accident and our sympathy goes out to the Cole family for their loss, but it was unfair of them to blame Ford. Brian Cole had been driving over 80 mph when he drifted off road for unknown reasons, suddenly turned his steering wheel 295 degrees, lost control, and caused the vehicle to roll over more than three times. He was not wearing his safety belt and died after being ejected from the vehicle. His passenger, who was properly belted, walked away from the accident. The court denied Ford a fair trial by excluding evidence that the jury should have heard and considered about Brian’s driving and the speculative nature of plaintiffs’ claims.
Cole, a 5-foot-9, 168-pound center fielder, hit .301/.347/.494 with 69 steals between Single-A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton in 2000, earning him an invitation to major league spring training in 2001. He was just 21 at the time of the accident, and he was viewed as a very good prospect, though many were skeptical about how his power would hold up at higher levels. Baseball America rated him as the Mets’ No. 3 prospect in 2001 behind outfielder Alex Escobar and right-hander Pat Strange.
Joe Longo, the agent of Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich, said his client’s relationship with the Marlins is “irretrievably broken,” ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports. He believes in the best interest of both Yelich and the Marlins to work out a trade before the start of spring training.
They have a plan. I respect that plan, but that plan shouldn’t include Christian at this point in his career. He’s in the middle of the best years of his career, and having him be part of a 100-loss season is not really where [we] want to see him going.
The relationship between player and team is irretrievably broken. It’s soured. He’s part of the old ownership regime. The new ownership regime needs to get new parts into this plan and move forward, and he needs to get on with his career where he’s got a chance to win. The big issue is him winning and winning now.
He loves the city of Miami. He loves the fans. He’s had nothing but a good experience in South Florida, and he feels sorry where they ended up. But I think having him report [to spring training] and attempting to include him moving forward is going to be uncomfortable for both sides. I don’t see how it’s going to work.
This certainly comes as no surprise considering the offseason the Marlins have had after installing new ownership, going from Jeffrey Loria to Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter. The club traded All-Star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, who hit 59 home runs last season, as well as Dee Gordon and Marcell Ozuna. As Crasnick notes, Yelich isn’t the only player to express disappointment with the Marlins’ current direction — J.T. Realmuto and Starlin Castro have as well.
Yelich, 26, signed a seven-year, $49.57 million contract extension with the Marlins in March of 2015. Given his career performance, that’s a bargain of a contract, which is why more than a handful of teams have inquired with the Marlins about him this offseason. Yelich finished the past season with a .282/.369/.439 triple-slash line along with 18 home runs, 81 RBI, 100 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 695 plate appearances.