Ford Sued Over Sudden Acceleration Claims

A multistate lawsuit filed last week says 2002-10 Ford Motor vehicles contain a “design defect” in the electronic control of the gas pedals, making them susceptible to sudden, unintended acceleration. The lawsuit filed on behalf of Ford owners in 14 states is seeking class-action status and goes into great detail about the alleged defect in the models named in the lawsuit that don’t have brake override technology. That technology stops the car if both the brake and the gas pedal are activated at the same time. Ford began installing it, known as “brake over accelerator,” in all vehicles it makes in 2010.

“For too long, Ford has put its own financial interests ahead of its consumers’ safety,” one of the lawyers leading the litigation. “We hope this lawsuit sheds light on this important situation and requires Ford to correct its ways, compensate its customers and put them first.” Attorneys for the plaintiffs are seeking compensatory damages for the lost value of the affected cars — the difference between what they paid for the cars vs. the value of the defective vehicles. The lawsuit also asks Ford to “fix the problem.”

Complaints about sudden acceleration in Ford models spiked for model years 2005 and 2006. Complaints have dropped off significantly for newer models, which a class-action lawsuit says is because brake override systems were installed, but some of that may also be because they haven’t been on the road as long.

A review of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s data shows complaints regarding sudden acceleration in Ford vehicles (including Lincolns and Mercurys) soared from 2005 to 2007, with injuries due to sudden acceleration at their highest rates from 2004 to 2006.

But Ford released a statement Thursday that said: “NHTSA has investigated alleged unintended accelerations many times over many years and has concluded that driver error is the predominant cause of these events. NHTSA’s work is far more scientific and trustworthy than work done by personal injury lawyers and their paid experts. In rare situations, vehicle factors, such as floor mats or broken mechanical components, can interfere with proper throttle operation, and manufacturers have addressed these rare events in field service actions.”

Owners of these Ford models with electronic throttle control are considered plaintiffs in the lawsuit if the vehicles were purchased in any of these states: West Virginia, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia or Wisconsin.

•Ford brand: 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 brand: 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 Zephy
• Mercury brand: 2002-2005 Cougar (XR7), 2005-2009 Grand Marquis, 2009-2010 Mariner, 2005-2010 Mariner HEV, 2006-2010 Milan, 2005-2007 Montego, 2004-2010Mountaineer, and 2008-2010 Sable