The Ford Pinto Case Analys
Business and Management
Submitted By slhumphrey12
Pinto Case Study
Ford Motor Company launched the Pinto in August of 1970. This car was intended to compete with Volkswagen in the small car market. A tragic accident happen on August 10, 1978 in which three girls were killed. Two of the girls were sisters and the third was their cousin. The 1973 Ford Pinto was traveling on a highway when their car was struck from behind. The car burst into flames and all three teenagers were burned to death.
Elkhart County prosecutor, Michael A. Cosentino took his case to the Elkhart County grand jury charging criminal homicide charges against Ford Motor Company. The trial was the first of its kind. The question was “Did Ford knowingly and recklessly choose to profit over safety in the design and placement of the Pinto’s gas tank?” (1) Cosentino was a part-time prosecutor with a $20,000 budget, some consultants working gratis and a task force of fired-up law school volunteers. (2) Ford had a former Watergate prosecutor with a million dollars to spend and legal team of 80 and all Ford’s resources at their disposal.
Prosecutor Cosentino was driven by the fact that big companies are rarely phased by paying damage rewards and at that point criminal law should step in. Cosentino has to prove that Ford intentionally put a design out that was very dangerous. That Ford had the knowledge of the faulty design and recklessly chose profit over safety. Ford maintained that the Ford Pinto met the current safety standards for rear end crashes. Many other manufacturers had the gasoline tanks in the same position as the Pinto’s, often in an even more hostile environment.(3)
Ford had a way to modify the Pinto gas tank so that it would greatly diminish the car catching fire in a rear end crash. The cost of this modification was around $11 per vehicle per Ford. In analyzing what to do in this situation, Ford used a utilitarian approach,…...