Most people have heard about the Ford Pinto and allegations that the Pinto's fuel tank explodes when the vehicle is hit from behind by another automobile. The Ford Pinto cases helped to define the concept of crashworthiness. Cases were brought against Ford on behalf of people who were severely burned and killed, alleging that the Pinto was not "crashworthy"; that it should not burst into flames when rear-ended by another car.
According to a 1977 Mother Jones article, Ford allegedly was aware of the design flaw, refused to pay for a redesign, and decided it would be cheaper to pay off possible lawsuits for resulting deaths. According to the Wikipedia article on the Ford Pinto, "The magazine obtained a cost-benefit analysis that it said Ford had used to compare the cost of an $11 repair against the monetary value of a human life—what became known as the Ford Pinto Memo."
A partial transcript of the infamous Pinto Memo can be seen here http://www.calbaptist.edu/dskubik/pinto.htm.
A complete copy of the document can be seen here http://www.autosafety.org/uploads/phpq3mJ7F_FordMemo.pdf.