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William Hicks

William  Hicks
Status: Deceased

(1929 - 1996)

Bill Hicks was one of the pioneers in the Ford Pinto exploding gas tank litigation. During his investigation, Bill uncovered an internal Ford memo showing Ford engineers were not only aware of the hazard but predicted that about 180 people would be burned to death and another 180 would be severely burned because of it. The memo went on to determine that those tragedies could be prevented by modifications costing about $10 per car. However, after estimating Ford's liability for compensatory damages, the memo concluded that it would be cheaper to put the car on the market without the safeguards and simply pay the victims. It's been estimated that Ford gained about $200 million by skimping on fuel system safety. Bill shared this now famous (infamous) memo with other plaintiff attorneys leading to Ford finally recalling the Pinto in September of 1978. A copy of the memo is attached.

The late Pat Maloney said about Bill Hicks, "Bill was the embodiment of what the Inner Circle stands for - a tremendous lawyer and more importantly a tremendous human being. He had his head on straight and he understood lifes priorities. [M]y most vivid recollection of Bill was some years ago at the Inner Circle Tennis Tournament when he played in the finals while eating an apple. We sometimes take ourselves too seriously, but Bill never did. He had no enemies. He had nothing but friends and everyone who met him was somehow enriched by being in his presence."
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