An incident occurred on August 10, 1978, involving a Ford-manufactured car, the Pinto. Two sisters and their aunt suffered a collision with a van while in their Ford Pinto car. The rear hit has led to the rupture of the gas tank, with the car rapidly bursting into flames in the process. The fire caused by the broken tank has led to the death of all three passenger. The Elkhart County Grand Jury charged the Ford company with the case of criminal homicide.
From the perspective of the county, the negligent actions of a company have led to the loss of human life. In the inability to properly follow best practices of design, and placing the fuel tank too close to the rear without sufficient collision protection, Ford has endangered its client-base, and acted in bad faith while doing so. Their engineers knew about the problem with Pinto’s design and had the ability to modify it during the manufacturing process, or give their customers an option of reinforcing the fuel tank further. Instead, they have done none of that, and further used their position to push back legislation that could be used to stop the sales of the Pinto. A focus on profit and costs above human life has led to the death of at least 3 people, who would have not suffered that fate otherwise.
From the perspective of the Motor company, their cars were made in accordance with the government-issued manufacturing standards and had all possible safety mechanisms working. The car was further restrained by the company’s internal factory standards of safety, and was made to withstand an impact from behind without combusting. Their first argument is that the car was made during the period when the government did not have the regulatory laws to ensure how far the fuel tank is from the rear of the car, and how well it is protected, meaning that they had no obligation from a legal sense. Furthermore, the collision occurred at a speed of 50 mph, which would result in any car combusting into flames. From their perspective, this outcome was not influenced by design or cost choices from their part and could not be changed.