HUNTINGTON – A federal magistrate judge has ordered Ford Motor Company to pay nearly $500,000 in sanctions within 30 days for making material misrepresentations during the discovery process, which significantly increased the plaintiffs’ costs of litigation.
The court entered an order in December sanctioning the defendant and awarded the plaintiffs attorneys’ fees and costs and expert fees and costs attributable to Ford’s discovery misconduct, according to the March order.
The matter was referred to U.S. Magistrate Judge Cheryl A. Eifert to determine the appropriate amount of fees and costs to be awarded to the plaintiffs.
The plaintiffs asked for fees in the amount of $692,225.52, while Ford argued that the plaintiffs were only entitled to $233,610.97, according to the order.
Eifert ordered Ford to pay the sum of $488,028.31 in sanctions within 30 days of the March 22 order.
The plaintiffs and Ford could not agree on appropriate hourly rates for the attorneys involved. The plaintiffs submitted hourly rates between $115 and $950 for the 18 attorneys, while Ford submitted the rates should have been between $100 and $400. Eifert determined that hourly rates between $115 and $550 were appropriate.
The lawsuit was originally filed in 2013. It alleged that Ford vehicles manufactured between 2002 and 2010 were equipped with an electronic throttle control system, but not equipped with adequate fail-safe systems to prevent incidents of sudden unintended acceleration.
The plaintiffs alleged that the Ford vehicles were vulnerable to sudden unintended acceleration events and that Ford admitted that its vehicles were prone to these events.
The plaintiffs were represented by attorneys from Spilman, Thomas & Battle; Grant & Eisenhofer; the DiCello Law Firm; Bucci Bailey & Javins; Bartimus Frickleton Robertson & Gorny; Murray & Murray Co.; Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley; Siprut PC; Bremer Whyte Brown & O’Meara; The Miller Law Firm; and Davis Bethune & Jones.
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia case number: 3:13-cv-06529