By Ed Diokno
Ford Motor Co. on May 25th, was cleared of any responsibility for a limousine that burst into flames killing five Filipinas, all members of a wedding party.
The blame belonged to the limousine company, argued Ford’s attorneys. The limo owners allowed nine passengers despite the recommended capacity of eight.
The jury decided that the limo company should pay $6.5 million to the plaintiff Aldrin Geronga, the widower of nurse Felomina Geronga, who died in the blazing vehicle three years ago. However, he will not see a penny. The limo owners had already settled with all the plaintiffs, including Aldrin Geronga, so they could not be penalized a second time.
Geronga’s lawyer, William Smith, said he will appeal.
The limousine was carrying the women across the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge on their way to a bachelorette party for Fojas who was going to the Philippines for the wedding ceremony. when the limo caught fire.
Four of the women escaped by crawling to the driver’s seat through a small partition. But the bride-to-be, Felomina Geronga and three others – Jennifer Balon, 39, Michelle Estrera, 35, Anna Alcantara, 46 – didn’t make it out.
All the women were nurses, part of the Filipino Diaspora that has thousands of Filipino workers, especially those in the medical field, leaving the Philippines every day for employment opportunities throughout the world.
Aldrin Geronga was the last plaintiff in the case. He had reached an undisclosed settlement with other defendants in the case besides Ford. The survivors as well as the families of the other women who perished settled with Ford earlier.
Ed Diokno writes a blog :Views From The Edge: news and analysis from an Asian American perspective.