Ford Focus Class Action Reinstated

Ford Motor Co. must face class action claims that it may have sold consumers a “pig in a poke” when it sold Ford Focus cars with rear suspension defects between 2005 and 2011.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals resurrected the dismissed class action Wednesday even though the plaintiffs had not researched the Focus or websites about it prior to buying.

The lawsuit alleged the suspension defect leads to premature tire wear, which in turn leads to safety hazards with loss of handling, steering and braking problems.  The suit alleged this could lead to catastrophic tire failure, and drifting while driving on wet or snow-covered roads.

The class case alleged the consumers would not have bought the car if they had known about the defect and that Ford had a duty to disclose the problem at the time of the sale.

Visiting Judge Donald Molloy said the question was “whether Ford Motor Co. sold the plaintiffs a pig in a poke.”

The appeals court reversed the trial judge’s dismissal of the suit saying the judge failed to follow existing California precedent regarding the length of time to honor an implied warranty.  An implied warranty simply means there is an unwritten guarantee by the car dealer that the car is fit for the purpose it was sold.

In addition, the panel found Ford’s express (written) warranty was so ambiguous that it must be understood to protect against both manufacturing and design defects.

The appeals court revived the class action and sent it back to the trial court in Sacramento for reconsideration.

The ruling by Molloy of Montana was joined by visiting judges Stephen Reinhardt and Michael Daly Hawkins.

Case: Daniel v. Ford Motor Co., No. 13-16476


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