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.