Consumers from 14 states have filed a federal class action against Ford Motor Co. in connection with alleged defects in Ford's vehicles causing and failing to prevent the unintended acceleration of those vehicles. The suit seeks compensatory relief on behalf of a proposed class of potentially millions of purchasers and lessees of Ford vehicles manufactured between 2002 and 2010.
The action was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia in Huntington by securities litigation and consumer class action law firm of Grant & Eisenhofer P.A., and other firms.
"This case is about helping Ford Motor Co. fix its cars, compensate consumers, and potentially save lives," said Adam Levitt, a Grant & Eisenhofer director and head of the firm's consumer practice group. "Ford's unfortunate history of unintended acceleration problems has been detailed at length in the public record. While our clients seek recovery for the lost value of their cars, they also want Ford to fix the problem so that no more people are injured and no more lives are at risk because of the documented accelerator problems with Ford's vehicles."
Plaintiffs contend that Ford vehicles equipped with an electronic throttle control system are vulnerable to sudden unintended acceleration events, and that Ford has admitted that some of its vehicles are in fact prone to such acceleration. Their complaint alleges that the Ford vehicles share a common design defect in lacking adequate fail-safe features, including a reliable brake-over-accelerator system (also referred to as a "brake override system"). Such a system is designed to allow a driver to overcome unintended throttle opening by returning the throttle to idle when certain conditions are met, allowing a driver to mitigate unintended acceleration by depressing the brake.
The cars named in the complaint are:
Ford vehicles: 2005-2007 500; 2005-2009 Crown Victoria; 2005-2010 Econoline; 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; 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. 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.
The suit contends that Ford owners have experienced unacceptable rates of sudden unintended acceleration, citing a report issued in October 2011 by the U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General. Plaintiffs allege that Ford should have prevented the SUA incidents by including the brake-over-accelerator system or other fail-safe systems in its vehicles. They maintain that, while Ford began installing a BOA system on some of its North American cars beginning in 2010, the company has failed to remedy, or even warn drivers about the lack of a brake-over-accelerator system on its earlier vehicles.
Plaintiffs, individually and on behalf of all other class members, seek compensatory damages for the lost value of their cars – the difference between what they originally paid for their cars versus the actual value of their defective vehicles. Plaintiffs also seek injunctive relief, requesting that Ford fix the problem.
Levitt stated: "The electronic throttle system takes control of the accelerator from the driver, and when problems occur, the results can be deadly. Other automakers have long recognized the risks associated with electronic throttles, and have implemented safety features when the driver hits the brakes. Ford was aware that technology is available that could fix the problem and save lives, but chose not to do anything about it until only three years ago. Our objective is to see that consumers are properly compensated, and to see that the defects are addressed in all Ford vehicles manufactured between 2002 and 2010."
Grant & Eisenhofer has led some of the largest investor recoveries on record in securities class actions, including serving as co-lead counsel to investors in a class action against Tyco International. Levitt, who launched the opening of the firm's Chicago office in January, has served as co-lead counsel in some of the largest class actions in recent years, including securing more than $1 billion in damages for plaintiffs in two of the largest agri/biotech cases in U.S. history. He currently represents car buyers in a product liability class action against Porsche involving claims arising from defective parts in the automaker's Cayenne model (In re Porsche Cars North America, Inc., Plastic Coolant Tubes Products Liability Litigation), as well as other pending automotive cases against Ford and BMW.
Those seeking additional details or desiring a copy of the new complaint may call the toll-free number: 866-365-8533, or visit www.gelaw.com/ford/.
The case is styled as: Belville, et al. v. Ford Motor Company, Case No. 2:13-cv-11111 (U.S. District Court, Southern District of West Virginia, Huntington). Co-counsel to plaintiffs are the law firms of: Spilman, Thomas & Battle, PLLC; The Dicello Law Firm; Bucci Bailey & Javins L.C.; Bartimus, Frickleton, Robertson & Gorny, P.C.; Murray and Murray Co., L.P.A.; Searcy, Denney, Scarola, Barnhart & Shipley PA; Siprut P.C.; Bremer, Whyte, Brown & O'Meara LLP; The Miller Law Firm, P.C.; and Davis, Bethune & Jones, LLC.