Suit reinstated against Ford: Troubled engine used in later model

July 10, 2008

By Brett Barrouquere
Associated Press

— A federal appeals court has reinstated a lawsuit alleging that Ford used an earlier model engine known to have problems in its 2004 F-250 Series Super Duty trucks.

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled yesterday that Kenneth E. Corder Sr. of Louisville could pursue the suit against Ford. The court split 2-1 in favor of Corder, finding that under the Kentucky Consumer Protection Act, Corder suffered an “ascertainable loss of money or property.”

“The engine in the 2003 F-250 truck was notorious for its deficiencies which were widely publicized, including ‘leaky fuel injectors, oil leaks, broken turbochargers, wiring harness troubles, faulty sensors, defective exhaust gas recirculation valves and bad computers,’ ” Judge William Schwarzer wrote for the panel.

Judge David McKeague said the two-judge majority misinterpreted Kentucky’s law as it applied to Corder’s case.

“Again, I believe the majority takes improper liberties with Kentucky law,” McKeague wrote.

Marcey Evans, a Ford spokeswoman in Detroit, said the company was disappointed.

“The company agrees with Judge McKeague that it is not misleading or deceptive not to inform car purchasers about the manufacturing history of vehicle components, and that the plaintiff in this case, who is satisfied with his properly performing vehicle, has suffered no loss. We believe that a jury is likely to reach these same conclusions as well,” Evans said.

Corder’s attorney, Robert Klein of Louisville, praised the ruling.

“I think the court made a very wise decision,” Klein said.

Corder sued the automaker in 2005, alleging Ford used a 2003 model engine in the 2004 F-250 Series Super Duty truck, but didn’t disclose to buyers that the earlier model engine was in the vehicle. Corder claims the 2003 engines were known to be faulty and he waited a year to buy the vehicle to avoid the 2003 model.

Klein said about 50,000 people bought the 2004 trucks with the older engines, making the case eligible to become a class-action lawsuit. A motion to certify it as a class-action was pending at the time the suit was dismissed. Klein said that motion will become active again.

Ford claimed there were no differences in the engine models and that different engines were produced for each new model truck year.

Corder produced enough evidence to show that different engines were installed in the 2004 trucks, Schwarzer wrote. Schwarzer, joined by Karen Nelson Moore, ruled that Corder presented enough evidence to show that a reasonable consumer would expect the newer engine in the 2004 truck and that Ford provided the older model.

The case returns to U.S. District Court in Louisville.