A coalition of consumer advocate law firms is increasing the pressure on Ford Motor Company to remedy approximately three million vehicles with allegedly defective door handles.
The pressure on Ford is being exerted through a mounting number of class action filings, as well as personal injury filings relative to some of Ford's most popular selling pick-up trucks and SUV's (the 1997-2000 model Ford F-150; Ford F-250- Super Light Duty; Ford Expeditions; Lincoln Navigator and the 2000 Blackwood).
"We want Ford to do the right thing. They need to correct a safety hazard that exists in its most popular vehicles before more drivers or passengers are injured or killed. We will continue filing these suits across the country until Ford responds appropriately," stated Motley Rice transportation attorney Fritz J. Jekel, on behalf of the coalition.
It is alleged in the complaints and demands that the defective door latch issues have been known to Ford Motor Company and its component part manufacturers for several years, that Ford had made a decision to initiate a voluntary recall as a result of the non-compliant door latches, and that due to liability and financial considerations, Ford cancelled the recall. It is alleged that the basis for canceling the voluntary recall is unjustified.
"It is documented that Ford has known this problem existed and had once determined that it was a problem that needed to be addressed. Ford has the ability to stop unnecessary injury and death. Until they do, consumers are needlessly being subjected to a safety hazard," said Jekel.
To date Alabama, Florida, North Carolina and Canada are the current sites for class action filings. Massachusetts counsel is making a demand on Ford to establish a repair fund/program to assist owners to identify and replace defective door latches. If, within 30 days of the demand, Ford does not agree to establish the repair fund/program, a class action will also be filed in Massachusetts against Ford and the component part manufacturers. The actions and demands involve allegations that Ford breeched its warranty and along with its component part manufacturers engaged in unfair and deceptive trade practices by marketing and selling vehicles that are not compliant with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, failing to correct a known safety-related defect and failing to notify the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and consumers of the defect.
The defect in question is alleged to involve door latch systems on the affected vehicles that do not comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations and can result in an unintended door opening and passenger ejection in motor vehicle accidents. To date, it is believed that at least ten personal injury actions have been filed against Ford alleging death or serious personal injury as a result of the defective door latch.