Page 10-Saturday, February 3, 1979-The Michigan Daily
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Judge rules Ford to' stand trial
ELHART, Ind. (AP) - A Judge
refused yesterday to block prosecution
of Ford Motor Co. on criminal charges
stemming from the deaths of three
young women in a fiery rear-end Pinto
Elkhart County Superior Court Judge
Donald Jones sifted through more than
200 pages of legal briefs before denying
the automaker's motion to dismiss the
indictment, which represents the first
criminal charges brought against a
Ford changing transmissions
DETROIT (UPI) - Ford Motor Co.
said yesterday it is changing the design
of automatic transmissions suspected
by federal safety officials of causing
hundreds of accidents and at least 23
A Ford spokesman said the design
change on 1980 model cars is intended
to "make it more difficult for human
error" that results in idling vehicles
jumping from "park" into "reverse."
THE NATIONAL Highway Traffic
Safety Administration is investigating
Ford's C6 and FMX transmissions,
used in some nine million 1970-78 Ford,
Lincoln and Mercury vehicles, to
determine if design flaws are to blame
for the mishaps.
The agency says it has record of 777
accidents involving 259 injuries and 23
deaths linked to the Ford tran-
smissions. Most of the accidents oc-
curred when the vehicles were left
unattended with the engines running.
Ford spokesmen Robert Harnar said
company .0nd government in-
vestigators have found no evidence that
design flaws are responsible for the
The company contends the accidents
were caused by drivers failing to push
the shift lever fully into "park".
He said the two transmissions, under
federal study since the fall of 1977, "are
essentially the same as those of our
manufacturer in an auto defects case.
JONES SET arraignment on the
three counts of reckless homicide for
The indictment handed down by an
Elkhart County grand jury in Septem-
ber said Ford recklessly designed Pinto
The three young women were killed
Aug. 10 when their 1973 Pinto sedan ex-
ploded in flames when it was struck
from the rear by a van that police said
was traveling 50 mph on a northern
THE CAR WAS 'among 1.5 million
Pinto and Bobcat sedans made between
1971 and 1976 that Ford announced in
June were being recalled after National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration
tests showed the cars consistently
leaked large amounts of fuel in
H. R. Nolte, vice president and
general counsel for Ford, said from the
company headquarters in Dearborn,
Mich., that Ford was considering an
immediate appeal to the Indiana Court
"We continue to believe that Ford
Motor Co. has not violated the criminal
laws of Indiana," he said.
ELKHART COUNTY Prosecutor
Michael Cosentino said: "The primary
issue is if this case is successful that a
corporation can be held criminally
liable for producinga defective product
and knowing it is defective and not
doing anything about it."
In asking that the charges be
dismissed, Ford argued among other
things that the 1977 law under which the
indictment was brought could not be
applied to the Pinto case -because the
car in question was made in 1973.
Cosentino argued that the law did ap-
ply because the charges were based on
an accident that happened 10 months
after the law took effect.
JONES, WHO took over the case from
retiring Judge Charles Hughes on Jan.
1, ruled that the charges were not based
solely on actions prior to 1977.
"Rather it appears that the indic-
tment alleging reckless 'design and
manufacture are simply antecedent
facts establishing the duty by the
defendant to make such repairs," he
said in his decision.
Do a Tree a Favor: Recycle Your Daily
UAC offers eleven
Help New Students Discover
the Diversity of Michigan
Pick up applications at the
Orientation Office (2530 SAB) from
Mon. Jan. 22, to Friday Feb. 16, 1979
* an affirmative action non-discriminatory employer *
By JOYCE FRIEDEN
When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen
- well, at least to one of their represen-
tatives when giving a mini-course sec-
tion for the University Activities Center
UAC is offering 11 non-credit mini-
courses at the Michigan Union begin-
ning next week. Sponsored by UAC's
Union Programming Committee,
students can learn anything from belly-
dancing to plant care. All classes are
open to the public and most of them are
EACH COURSE is taught by a local
resident who is an expert in that field.
The E.F. Hutton representative will
speak on business investments, while
Suhela of Art Worlds dance studios will
teach belly dancing.
According to Melanie Potash, UAC
programming committee member,
mini-courses benefit both teachers and
students. Potash said local merchants,
while teaching the courses, get
publicity for their businesses while the
student gains more knowledge in that
Potash said merchants are more than
willing to donate their time to such a
venture. "It's a public ser-
vice . . . people are usually pretty
cooperative," said Potash.
POTASH SAID the mini-courses held
last year were successful. She ex-
plained that although only two courses
were offered last term, the committee
decided to expand the program this
term because of the high interest
Potash said another objective of the
mini-courses is to promote use of the
Union, especially after its recent
student acquisition. "Mini-courses are
a good way of getting people back to the
Union - to think of it as a place to come
to," Potash said.
Courses will begin Tuesday, Feb. 6
and will continue until Wednesday,
March 28. Most of the courses are
taught in one session, usually from 7 to
10 p.m. People may sign up any time
before the class- meets, Complete
listings of times and places are
available at Ticket Central, located on
the first floor of the Union.
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