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Ford Class Action Moves Ahead in California

Feb 17, 2005 | A California Superior Court in Sacramento has certified a class-action lawsuit against Ford, allowing the case to go forward. The suit charges that Ford knew of a rollover defect in its Explorer SUVs and that it concealed the defect from consumers.

The class certified by the court generally includes persons who purchased or leased Ford Explorers in California during the period from 1990 through August 2000. According to evidence presented to the court, Ford sold over 440,000 Explorers in California during that time period.

It was in August 2000 that Firestone initiated a recall of tires used on the Ford Explorer because of the large number of fatalities that occurred when Explorers rolled over after the tread separated from their tires. The plaintiffs allege that further investigation revealed that Ford had suggested underinflating the tires to conceal the Explorer's rollover problems.

Ford's internal documents indicate that Ford ignored its engineers' advice that the Explorer SUV needed design revisions to prevent rollover accidents and fatal injuries, according to a Bloomberg news article of February 2, 2005.

In 2004, Ford lost 2 Explorer rollover cases at trial, including a verdict in San Diego of $150 million, after reduction by the trial judge, and a $5.3 million verdict in Fort Myers, Florida. In addition to the California class action case, there are about two dozen trials claiming defects in Explorers that are set to take place this year.

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