This lawsuit alleges that certain year Ford Explorers, Mercury Mountaineers and Lincoln Aviators contain a common defect that causes a body panel on the rear tailgate to sustain a vertical crack in the vicinity of the Ford, Lincoln or Mercury proprietary emblem.
In this case, 30 distinct plaintiffs hailing from 25 states are claiming that their Ford vehicles are characterized by a specific defect that results in cracking of the tailgate and the need for expensive repairs. By failing to provide warranty coverage for the necessary repairs, it is alleged that Ford's conduct has constituted violations of the Magnusson-Moss Federal Warranty Act and various state consumer protection statutes, breaches of common law warranties and unjust enrichment at the expense of owners and lessees.
Tailgates are essential components of the Ford Explorers, Lincoln Aviators and Mercury Mountaineers that are at the center of this lawsuit. Cracks in these rear doors present serious risks that include the shattering of the glass they contain, separation and dislocation of logo appliques while the vehicle is in motion and subsequent injury to owners or passersby.
The complaint argues that Ford was fully aware of the ongoing problem of cracked tailgates as far back as the early part of 2002. Thousands of complaints were submitted to Ford about the issue, but no recall or other remedy was forthcoming from the automaker. Ford's knowledge of the defect was evidenced by its issuance of internal “Technical Service Bulletins” to dealership service departments. These bulletins are not recalls and do not obligate the dealership to make complimentary repairs to address problems contained therein. Multiple bulletins were issued with regard to tailgate cracking.
Plaintiffs in this case presented their cracked tailgates to Ford dealers for warranty repairs only to have their claims denied. The out-of-pocket repair costs typically fell in the range of $300-$800 per instance, with some owners experiencing multiple cracking events. Ford continued to decline warranty work on this issue, insisting that the cracking was due to external occurrences and not a design or manufacturing defect.
The lawsuit argues that the Ford tailgates at issue were fabricated from faulty materials and were subjected to deficient assembly methods. Thus, the tailgates were defective from the start, causing the plaintiffs to sustain economic losses in the form of their out-of-pocket repair costs and the consequential decline in value of their vehicles.
The parties appear to have fully briefed the class certification motion. We will recheck the status of the case in November, 2015.