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Lawsuit says faulty accelerator design was cause of accident

Audrey E. Fravel of Woodstock has filed a lawsuit accusing Ford Motor Co. of designing a defective accelerator-throttle control system that caused her vehicle, shown here after the November 2011 accident, to speed up uncontrollably and crash into the concrete base of a light pole. Sally Voth/Daily

By Joe Beck

A lawsuit filed by a Woodstock woman Tuesday in U.S. District Court accuses Ford Motor Co. of designing a defective accelerator-throttle control system that caused her vehicle to speed up uncontrollably and crash into the concrete base of a light pole.

Audrey E. Fravel, of 23584 Senedo Road, states in her complaint that she suffered "serious and permanent injuries" resulting in severe "pain, discomfort, mental anguish and disfigurement."

The suit seeks an unstated amount of compensatory and punitive damages from Ford.

The suit accuses Ford of negligence in equipping Fravel's Ford with an unreliable electronic throttle control that caused the accident in the parking lot of Peebles Department Store at the corner of U.S. 11 and East Reservoir Road on Nov. 16, 2011.

The suit states that Fravel was backing out of a parking space and placed the car in drive. The Edge suddenly sped up, although Fravel had not used the accelerator, according to the suit.

"The vehicle failed to respond to the brakes, causing it to strike the concrete base of a parking lot light with great force and came to a stop with the vehicle mounted" on the base, according to the suit.

Fravel's attorney, Bradley G. Pollack of Woodstock, said Wednesday that his client was hospitalized for one or two weeks after the accident.

"She was beat up pretty badly, black and blue all over," Pollack said. "She's healed about as well as a 75-year-old woman can expect to, but she still has aches and pains and long-term problems because of her injuries."

Members of Ford's public relations department did not reply to an email inquiry about the suit.

The lawsuit contends that Ford knew about the dangers of the electronic throttle control system through complaint databases, field reports and engineering documents.

Other carmakers, including Audi, Toyota and Suburu, have been the targets of past consumer complaints about unintended acceleration, some of them linked to throttle control designs similar to those cited in the Fravel suit.

Pollack said he asked Ford to review material related to the accident before he filed the lawsuit.

"That was in mid-October," he said. "Since then, I've heard nothing from them. I've asked them what the results of their investigation have been, and they haven't responded at all."

Pollack said Ford will have 21 days to respond to the suit after the company is served with a summons, which he was completing Wednesday.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com


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