Chicago readers no doubt remember the sudden acceleration scandal that has plagued Toyota for the last few years. Many car accidents were blamed on this alleged vehicle defect and Toyota is only now settling the bulk of related lawsuits.
But it seems that "unintended acceleration" is not just a problem in Toyota vehicles. Recently, more than 20 plaintiffs sought class action status in a lawsuit against Ford, alleging that millions of its vehicles suffer from the same design defect.
The lawsuit was filed in West Virginia but involves plaintiffs from 14 different states. The complaint alleges that between 2003 and 2009, 22 percent of complaints regarding unintended acceleration were related to Ford vehicles. This is according to a U.S. Department of Transportation report from 2011. The plaintiffs accuse Ford of concealing this information from the public and failing to take corrective actions such as the installation of a brake override system.
The plaintiffs' lead attorney said: "For too long, Ford has put its own financial interests ahead of its consumers' safety. We hope this lawsuit sheds light on this important situation and requires Ford to correct its ways, compensate its customers and put them first."
Most automakers have been accused of unintended acceleration at some point throughout their history. Unfortunately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration often blames driver error for most of these accidents. In response to the lawsuit, Ford issued a public statement essentially reminding consumers that the NHTSA has traditionally sided with automakers when it comes to allegations of unintended acceleration.
Still, if class-action status is granted, the scope of this lawsuit could expand quickly; eventually including millions of vehicles and perhaps hundreds of plaintiffs. This will be one case for consumers to follow closely, especially those who own a Ford.
Source: WRCBtv.com, "Lawsuit claims Ford 'design defect' can cause sudden acceleration," Mar. 31, 2013