LOS ANGELES — A district-court judge has denied class
certification by Ford drivers who are suing over allegedly faulty
steering in some Focus and Fusion cars.
According to a report
by Law 360, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh denied certification of
three proposed classes of statewide consumers accusing Ford Motor Co.
of failing to disclose issues with the vehicles’ electronic
power-assisted steering systems. New vehicle owners, those seeking
reimbursement for fixing the issue, and Focus or Fusion lessees made
up the classes.
on National Law Review's website stated that Ford allegedly knew as
early as 2007 of the EPAS system defect and fraudulently hid this
fact from consumers. The plaintiffs are claiming that they also paid
too much for their cars than they would have if Ford had provided
this information to them.
However, as reported on Law360,
Koh found that when it came to new vehicle and reimbursement classes,
those members were not subject to uniform representation of EPAS
functionality by Ford as some of those involved may have read a
portion of the owner’s manual of the alleged affected vehicles,
which warned of a possible fault in the EPAS system.
As a consequence, Koh stated that it would be difficult to
determine actual harm suffered by class members from the alleged
concealment if they had actually read it in the driver’s manual.
Not only that, but it was reported that the drivers’ expert failed
to establish a damages theory for the new vehicle and reimbursement
that matches their theory of liability.
According to the report,
Dr. Joseph Arnold offered what the correct damages model would look
like such as balancing the “expected utility” and “disutility”
of the EPAS system based on what consumers would spend based on the
likelihood of the steering malfunctioning. However, Arnold reportedly
used a different model instead that didn’t measure these issues.
Regarding the lessee claims, Koh said the plaintiffs could not
receive certification as they failed to determine entitlement to the
injunctive relief they seek. Additionally, Koh added that such a
claim was unusual because the automaker had conducted a recall to fix
the EPAS problem.
This news is the latest step in a lawsuit that was initially
launched in June 2014, which was on behalf of a nationwide class of
drivers who had leased or bought a Fusion models from 2010-2014 or
Focus models from 2012-2014, as reported on Law360.
In March 2015, Koh permitted drivers to file a second complaint,
after the first was too cumbersome, focusing on the claims of
fraudulent concealment. In April 2015, Ford followed this with a
dismissal bid with the complaint remaining mostly intact. After a
third attempt by Ford to trim claims, Koh denied this, stating that
the recent recall didn’t provide drivers with enough relief.
However, now that the case is unable to proceed as a class action,
the plaintiffs involved will need to determine whether to continue
pursuing their claims on an individual basis, according to National