White Collar Crimes: The Rise And Fall Of The Ford Pinto

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Until the late 1960s Ford Motor Company was only manufacturing large metal, gas draining vehicles. During this time foreign automakers were capitalizing on a not so competitive subcompact market. These vehicles weighed less, more fuel efficient, and also cost less than the average American made vehicle. Ford Motor Company was not in the business to be second to anyone. President of Ford Motor Company Lee Iacocca decided to push the envelope and create a car that would beat any other subcompact on the market. His idea was to create the Ford Pinto. A vehicle that would cost no more than $2,000 and weigh no more than 2,000 pounds. Mark Dowie an author from Mother Jones wrote an expose of the Ford Pinto in 1977 and he stated “Lee Iacocca was fond…show more content…
The NHTSA failed to spot the issues but it wasn’t because of lack of oversight. Mathew T. Lee of the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice from the University of Delaware stated the tests were done on vehicles going less than 30 MPH and for the Ford Pinto it's exploding point was between 30-35 MPH (Lee). Just after the expose from Mark Dowie of Mother Jones was written the NHTSA assigned a group to begin testing the collisions at a higher speed which resulted in the NHTSA raising the minimum to at least 35 MPH, forcing Ford to recall the Pintos (Lee). The case that will always be remembered was State of Indiana Vs. Ford Motor Company. It was the first time in US history that criminal charges were brought against a corporation. Three girls were killed in a Ford Pinto accident and Ford was to blame. William Shaw in the book Moral Issues of Business describes the case stating “The judge in the case advised jurors that Ford should be convicted if it had clearly disregarded the harm that might result from its actions, and that disregard represented a substantial deviation from acceptable standards of conduct…the jury found Ford not guilty of criminal homicide” (Shaw). William also states “Ford has always denied that the Pinto is unsafe compared with other cars of its type and era. The company also points out that in every model year the…show more content…
Robert Sherefkin from autonews.com stated “Ford customers filed 117 lawsuits” (Sherefkin). Shaw describes the amount of damage and death stating Ford puts the figure at 23; its critics say the figure is closer to 500 (Shaw). Shaw also stated “According to the sworn testimony of Ford engineers, 95 percent of the fatalities would have survived if Ford had located the fuel tank over the axle” (Shaw). With sworn testimony and other findings of how Ford neglected to make the repair prior to production Ford Motor Company was forced to pay out a lot of these lawsuits. But Ford was never found guilty of any type of criminal charges as mentioned earlier. It is unknown how much money Ford paid in lawsuits because a lot of them were settled in back rooms. But one case in California were a women was killed and the passenger who was only 13 years old was severely burned cost Ford $128 million to settle (Sherefkin). With that much going to only one lawsuit one can only speculate that with 117 lawsuits Ford must have paid out over $500 million but as mentioned it is unknown. As mentioned earlier Ford had originally put that it would cost them $137 million to fix the issue and the California lawsuit was almost that alone. For Ford the fiscal cost to fix the tank didn’t eventually outweigh the cost of the lawsuits. With the heavy

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