A class-action suit against Ford Motor Company was filed Thursday, March 28, in district court in Huntington, West Virginia on behalf of 14 people who own Ford vehicles manufactured from 2002 through 2010.
The lawsuit alleges defects have resulted in problems with unintended acceleration. This, however, is not a typical class action lawsuit.
Read for yourself
The complaint includes millions of Ford, Mercury and Lincoln vehicles manufactured from 2002 through 2010. What is not included in the complaint, however, is more important that what is included.
Read the full text of the 135 page complaint here.
A key sentence on page two under the heading Nature of the Case reads: “This Complaint does not assert, and is not intended to assert, wrongful death or personal injury claims, or any damages therefrom.”
Millions of vehicles, yet the plaintiffs in this lawsuit allege no deaths, no injuries and no crashes.
In a lawsuit seeking money, one must prove damages. The damages claimed by the plaintiffs in this suit are not for personal injury, pain or suffering. The plaintiffs allege they paid more for their vehicles than they should have because if they had known of these defects they would have paid a lower price or they would have purchased another vehicle.
The complaint alleges that beginning in 2010, recognizing (Ford’s) “deadly failure” to implement adequate fail-safe systems on its earlier Ford Vehicles, Ford began installing a Brake Over Accelerator (BOA) system on some of its North American vehicles.
A BOA is a system designed to allow a driver to overcome unintended throttle opening by returning the throttle to idle when certain conditions are met.
The complaint alleges that the common design defect in all of the Ford Vehicles manufactured between 2002 and 2010 is that they are fitted with an electronic throttle control and do not include a fail-safe system such as a BOA.
Vehicles named in the complaint include:
- Mercury vehicles: 2002-2005 Cougar (XR7), 2005-2009 Grand Marquis, 2009-2010 Mariner, 2005-2010 Mariner HEV, 2006-2010 Milan, 2005-2007 Montego, 2004-2010 Mountaineer, and 2008-2010 Sable.
- Ford vehicles: 2005-2009 Crown Victoria, 2005-2010 E-Series, 2007-2010 Edge, 2009-2010 Escape, 2005-2010 Escape HEV, 2005-2010 Expedition, 2004-2010 Explorer, 2007-2010 Explorer Sport Trac, 2004-2010 F-Series, 2005-2007 Five Hundred, 2009- 2010 Flex, 2008-2010 Focus, 2005-2007 Freestyle, 2006-2010 Fusion, 2005-2010 Mustang, 2008-2010 Taurus, 2008-2009 Taurus X, 2002-2005 Thunderbird, and 2010 Transit Connect
- Lincoln vehicles: 2003-2006 LS, 2006-2008 Mark LT, 2009-2010 MKS, 2010 MKT, 2007-2010 MKX, 2006-2010 MKZ, 2005-2009 Town Car, and 2006-2010 Zephyr. (Zephyr was produced only in 2006. In 2007 the vehicle was renamed MKZ.)
Over the years, stories of unintended acceleration have plagued various auto manufacturers. The first major case involved Audi in a blockbuster 60 Minutes story aired in 1996 that nearly killed the Audi brand in the U.S. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigation found driver error was the cause and Audi was completely exonerated.
According to a report in the Detroit Free Press, Ford has not commented directly about the lawsuit. In the Free Press report, Ford spokeswoman Kristina Adamski referred to studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over the years that have concluded that most sudden acceleration cases stem from driver error.
The real winners and losers
This case alleges that the plaintiffs suffered damages because they paid too much for their vehicles, but a dollar amount will be difficult to calculate. With many class action lawsuits, the big winners are the law firms that stand to reap millions in legal fees.
The plaintiffs in this case – assuming there would be any award of damages – will not get millions. They will likely get a discount coupon they can use on their next purchase of a Ford vehicle.