$17 million verdict returned by Clayton County jury

A Clayton County jury recently awarded a $17.7 million verdict against Ford Motor Co. and a driver for a wreck that occurred Christmas morning in 2005.

The verdict was awarded to Lynn Wheeler, who suffered catastrophic injuries and is now a quadriplegic, and to her husband Doug. Wheeler was on her way to church wearing a lap-only seat belt in a 2002 Ford Explorer which was struck head-on by a car driven by John C. Stanley on Noah's Ark Road.

In a verdict returned Dec. 18, the jury found Ford responsible for $16.4 million in damages for defects in the Explorer's occupant protection system, Atlanta lawyer Alan Hamilton said in a statement. When the jury also decided to award punitive damages against Ford, Ford and the Wheelers settled the case before that verdict was announced, Hamilton said.