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DETROIT (Reuters) - A California court of appeals on Tuesday ordered Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F - News) to pay $23.7 million to a family involved in a 1993 rollover accident after the U.S. Supreme Court threw out a $290 million judgment in the same case.

Ford had called the original $290 million award to the Romo family the largest personal injury award ever upheld by an appeals court. The Supreme Court threw the damages out and sent the case back to the state court after ruling in a different case that punitive damages must be reasonable and proportionate to the harm suffered.

The damages stemmed from the crash of a 1978 Bronco near Ceres, California. Three members of the Romo family were killed and three others were injured when the vehicle overturned several times, causing the roof to cave in.

The accident occurred after the Bronco's driver, Juan Romo, swerved when he was cut off by another vehicle.

The surviving plaintiffs sued Ford, claiming the roof had been improperly designed because it did not have steel reinforcement. The jury awarded them $4.6 million in compensatory damages and $290 million in punitive damages.

A judge ordered a new trial because two jurors had shown bias. But a California appeals court reinstated the entire $290 million, and the California Supreme Court, by a 4-3 vote, declined to review the decision.

In Tuesday's ruling, the court said it arrived at its figure by multiplying the compensatory damages by three, and adding an additional $10 million for Ford's "extreme reprehensibility." In its original ruling, the court had said Ford's design of the Bronco amounted to involuntary manslaughter.

The court said the Romo family could reject the award and seek another trial for punitive damages.

Full Story HERE
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