Ford denies claims that diesel engines have defects

By Kelly Holleran | Oct 20, 2009

CHARLESTON – Ford is denying allegations that 6.0-liter Power Stroke diesel engines in some of its trucks contain multiple defects that may cause the truck to randomly shut off.

The allegations stem from a putative class action lawsuit Commercial Steam Cleaning and Andrew E. Harold filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia against Ford and Navistar International Corporation.

In the complaint, Commercial Steam Cleaning and Harold claim they began experiencing problems with Ford trucks equipped with a 6.0-liter Power Stroke diesel engine manufactured by Navistar. The engines were placed only in Ford's 2003 through 2006 model medium- and heavy-duty pick-up trucks and in its discontinued Ford Excursion SUV.

According to the complaint, there have been numerous problems associated with the engines including oil leaks, broken turbochargers, wiring harness troubles, faulty sensors, defective exhaust gas recirculation valves and faulty computers.

"Plaintiffs are informed and believe that because of the defective and unreliable nature of the engine, there is a greater likelihood their engines will fail, lose power and/or cut-off during operation, thereby resulting in accidents involving personal injury, death and property damages," the suit states.

To back up its allegations, Commercial Steam Cleaning provides examples of its own problems with two 2005 Ford F-550s and one 2006 Ford F-550. On numerous occasions, Commercial Steam Cleaning has been forced to bring the Ford trucks in for repairs, but the problems have continued, the complaint says.

As a result, Commercial Steam Cleaning claims it has been without the use of the Ford trucks for about 325 days between Dec. 9, 2005, and May 31, 2008.

Co-plaintiff Harold purchased a 2004 Ford F250 Super Duty pick-up truck on Oct. 2, 2007, but has also been required to repeatedly bring his truck into the shop for repairs, which still persist, according to the complaint.

"On information and belief, Ford has sold throughout the United States over 350,000 trucks equipped with the defective 6.0-liter Power Stroke diesel engine," the suit states.

Ford contends the number of F-series trucks sold from 2003 through 2006 numbers 5,835.

When customers purchased the vehicles, they were provided with a manufacturer's warranty that promised Ford would fix or replace any defective parts in the automobiles, the complaint says.

However, the plaintiffs contend Ford has broken its promise and has refused to repair certain defects.

In addition, since the sale of the trucks, Ford has issued two recalls to fix various problems with the engine, but the problems have never been satisfactorily fixed, the complaint says. Meanwhile, Navistar has refused to replace the defective engines, the plaintiffs claim.

In its response to the complaint, Ford denies most of the plaintiffs' allegations. It contends the engines in the trucks are not defective. And, although it does admit it recalled certain vehicles containing the engine in question, it denies the plaintiffs' accusations that the problems have not been fixed.

Ford says the complaint against it should be dismissed, in part because the class is preempted from filing the suit under the Federal National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act.

If the lawsuit is not dismissed, the court should not allow it to proceed as a class action because each vehicle varies greatly from another, which would prevent the allowance of a class action, Ford's answer states.

If the complaint is not dismissed and if it is permitted to continue as a class action, members of the class who have not experienced any of the problems contained in the complaint should be prohibited from joining the lawsuit, Ford states. In addition, anyone who misused their vehicle should not be allowed to participate in the complaint, Ford's response states.

In the complaint, the plaintiffs allege breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty, negligence, gross negligence and recklessness.

The plaintiffs are asking the court to certify the proposed class, to issue a preliminary and permanent injunction ordering Ford and Navistar to repurchase all vehicles equipped with the allegedly defective engine and to declare the engines are defective, requiring Ford and Navistar to notify all class members of the defective nature of the engines. In addition they are seeking compensatory, punitive and exemplary damages, plus attorneys' fees, costs and other relief the court deems just.

Ford is asking the court to determine that the complaint cannot continue as a class action. It is also asking the court to dismiss the complaint and to award Ford costs, attorneys' fees and other relief the court deems just.

Stephen P. Meyer and Craig B. Giffin of Meyer, Ford and Glasser in Charleston will be representing the plaintiffs.

Michael Bonasso and Elizabeth L. Taylor of Flaherty, Sensabaugh and Bonasso in Charleston and Brian Anderson and Scott M. Hammack of O'Melveny and Myers in Washington, D.C. will be representing Ford.

U.S. District Court case number: 2:09-cv-1009

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