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Suit Blames Ford For Crown Victoria Defect

Jan 30, 2003 | AP A police group has filed a lawsuit claiming that Ford failed to fix a defect that can cause its Crown Victoria police cruisers to erupt in flames when hit from behind.

The National Association of Police Organizations Inc., which represents more than 1,000 police unions around the country, filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Manhattan Federal Court.

Last month, State Trooper Robert Ambrose died on the New York State Thruway when a sports-utility vehicle rammed into his Crown Victoria cruiser. The lawsuit cites Ambrose's death and seven other similar accidents.

Ford denied the cars are dangerous. Company spokeswoman Kathleen Vokes told the Daily News the suit was "totally meritless."

In September, Ford agreed to pay for the installation of shields around the gas tanks on police-issued Crown Victorias. Some 350,000 police cars across the country about 80 percent of all police cruisers are Crown Victorias.

The company argues that the real problem, though, is not with the car but from the way it is used.

"(Police officers) are using their vehicles as shields and these vehicles are not designed to be shields; they're designed to be cars," Ford spokeswoman Carolyn Brown said last month in response to a suit filed in Texas. "It's a scenario that spells disaster."

The company said modifications to the consumer version of the Crown Victoria are not necessary because most drivers don't submit cars to the pressures that police officers do. That argument was criticized by former National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief Joan Claybrook, president of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen.

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