A Falls Church woman was awarded $50,000 in damages yesterday in a suit she filed against the Ford Motor Co. alleging she was injured because of an automatic transmission made by the company.
A Fairfax County Circuit Court jury found in favor of Constance K. Bartholomew, who had brought suit based on an incident that occurred Oct. 22, 1976, when she was loading groceries into her 1973 Lincoln Continental in a parking lot of the Seven Corners Shopping Center.
Bartholomew contended that as she was loading groceries, the car went into reverse and struck her and some nearby parked cars before stopping.
Evidence did not establish that the woman suffered major injury.
Her attorneys argued that the car's transmission mechanism could be operated in a way that permitted a motorist to believe the car had been placed in the parking gear when in fact in had not. If this happened, and the mechanism placed between park and reverse, it was argued, the car could from this position go into reverse.
A lawyer representing Ford said he has recommended that the company appeal.
An expert who testified for the woman said the unexpected shift might happen once in one or two million times.
Henry Fiedler, one of the woman's lawyers, said in an interview that over the years 700 deaths or injuries have been attributed to the condition.