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Nov 30, 2009 1:11 PM by Associated Press

Court won't disturb award in SUV rollover

The Supreme Court has left in place an $82.6 million award to a woman who was paralyzed after her Ford Explorer rolled over.

The justices on Monday rejected Ford Motor Co.'s challenge to the portion of the award, $55 million, that was intended as punitive damages. Ford argued that it should not be punished because its design of the vehicle met federal safety standards.

A California state appeals court earlier rejected Ford's contention and upheld the award to Benetta Buell-Wilson. She was driving on an interstate east of San Diego in January 2002 when she swerved to avoid a metal object and lost control of her 1997 Explorer, which rolled 4 1/2 times. The mother of two was paralyzed from the waist down when the roof collapsed on her neck, severing her spine.

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