HUNTINGTON – Plaintiffs attorneys are asking a federal judge to order Ford Motor Co. to issue a safety advisory to drivers of certain vehicles.
Attorneys in a class action lawsuit filed against Ford in March claim Ford must advise drivers on what to do if a Ford, Lincoln or Mercury made between 2002-10 experiences a burst of unintended acceleration.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia in Huntington, alleges purchasers of those vehicles would not have paid as much as they did if they knew the vehicles were subject to unintended acceleration.
No physical injury is alleged. The request for the safety advisory was filed Nov. 18 in the form of a motion for preliminary injunction.
“Without instructions from Ford about how to safely navigate a vehicle experiencing sudden unintended acceleration, owners of the vehicles and the general public face the ultimate irreparable injury: significant injury or death (and significant property damage),” the memorandum in support of the preliminary injunction says.
“The further delay in providing the requested consumer advisory information exposes class members and the general public to substantial risks. Instructions provided years from now (once the case is finally tried) cannot adequately protect owners and the general public to the same extent as providing the instructions now.
“People will be injured or die and property will be damaged during that time. That is the hallmark of an irreparable injury.”
Still pending is Ford’s motion to dismiss the case, filed June 27.
It says the plaintiffs seek damages because the vehicles lack a particular driver-assistance feature known as Brake-Throttle Override, which depowers the engine if the gas pedal is trapped by a floor mat and the driver hits the brake.
Ford says it never marketed the vehicles at issue as having a BTO feature.
The plaintiffs attorneys responded by arguing internal Ford reports show that immediately after the company introduced the throttle control electronics at issue, the vehicles began experiencing sudden accelerations in large numbers.
Also still pending is the plaintiffs attorneys’ request to have several leadership positions among them named.
Two Charleston attorneys are asking to be named interim co-lead counsel. They are Timothy Bailey of Bucci, Bailey & Javins and Niall A. Paul of Spilman Thomas & Battle.
They are joined in their request by Adam J. Levitt of Grant & Eisenhofer in Chicago; Stephen M. Gorny of Bartimus, Frickleton, Robertson & Gorny in Leawood, Kan.; and Mark DiCello of The DiCello Law Firm in Mentor, Ohio.
Charleston attorney Edgar F. Heiskell III is also asking to be a part of the Plaintiffs Steering Committee.
Others asking to be placed on the PSC are John T. Murray of Murray and Murray in Sandusky, Ohio; John Scarola of Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley in West Palm Beach, Fla.; Joseph J. Siprut of Siprut PC in Chicago; Keith G. Bremer of Bremer Whyte Brown & O’Meara in Newport Beach, Calif.; E. Powell Miller of The Miller Law Firm in Rochester, Mich.; Grant L. Davis of Davis Bethune & Jones in Kansas City, Mo.; and Gregory M. Travalio of Isaac Wiles Burkholder & Teetor in Columbus, Ohio.
Ford says it is too early to decide leadership positions because there is still a class action pending in South Carolina federal court and all the class actions should be before the same court.
The requested safety advisory contains three steps. First, a driver should step hard on the brake pedal but not pump the brakes.
Second, he or she should shift to neutral, if possible, and steer the car to a safe place by the road. Third, the driver should turn off the engine.
From the West Virginia Record: Reach John O’Brien at email@example.com.