SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) - On Nov. 25, a U.S. District
judge dismissed a class action lawsuit against Ford, Toyota and GM,
ruling the claim that cars were susceptible to electronic hacking had no
evidence of personal injury to support it.
According to their claim, the plaintiffs argued that the three
automakers had knowledge of an electronic security threat that they were
hiding from consumers. They cited the possibility that hackers could
control cars remotely, which allegedly caused the plaintiffs to purchase
their cars under false pretenses.
Judge William H. Orrick dismissed the speculative claims, pointing out
that all cars after 2008 have electronic components and that the
plaintiffs lacked any proof of manifested damages.
While the case
lacked evidentiary support, it dealt with an issue that is spreading
across industries. Due to the rise in breaches, cybersecurity is
becoming a more prevalent matter across the nation and now in the auto
Director of communications at the Washington, D.C.–based Alliance of
Automobile Manufacturers, Wade Newton, while unable to speak directly to
this case, was able to shed some light on how the automobile industry
is dealing with electronic security threats.
“Cybersecurity is an issue many industries take seriously – and that includes ours," Newton said.
are adopting a multi-dimensional approach to security and work to keep
pace with the dynamic nature of cyber threats by incorporating security
by design, developing internal expertise, and cultivating partnerships –
both procedural and operational – with organizations specializing in
cyber defense. By addressing potential future challenges of cyber
threats, the industry can continue producing safe vehicles that
incorporate modern and robust security protections."
In Cahen, et al. v. Toyota Motor Corp., et al., the plaintiffs
alleged that these types of precautions were not enough. In addition to
the hacking accusations, they claimed that the automakers failed to
specify a credible risk to future harm from the collection and tracking
of vehicle data through electronic systems to their customers.
Orrick deemed this to be a speculative accusation, despite their claim
of economic hardship for purchasing vehicles whose technology they did
not fully understand.
According to Newton, the security technology is evolving with the
industry. Though not specifically related to this case, the improvements
are intended to prevent any cybersecurity threats from being
“In 2015, automakers established an Automotive Information Sharing and
Analysis Center (Auto-ISAC) to facilitate the exchange of important
threat information -- and countermeasures -- in real time," he said.
ISAC is another essential layer of cyber protections in addition to
what individual automakers are already doing. It serves as a central
hub for gathering intelligence that allows automakers to analyze, share
and track cyber threats and spot potential weaknesses in vehicle
On top of the defense of speculation and lack of evidence, the court
found that the plaintiffs were not even eligible to sue Ford in
California because none of them bought or leased Ford models in
California and the Ford headquarters are located in Michigan.
If the plaintiffs wish to file an amended complaint, they will have until Friday.