Sacramento, California -- A statewide notice program authorized by California's Sacramento County Superior Court began today, to issue notices to those who bought, owned or leased 1991-2001 model year Ford Explorers. The notices are a result of the Court establishing or "certifying," in February 2005, a class action lawsuit against Ford Motor Company, about whether Ford concealed a design flaw that increased rollover risk and lowered Explorer values.
The lawsuit includes California residents, including person and entities, who bought, owned, or leased, new or used 1991-2001 model year Ford Explorers in California between 1990 and August 9, 2000, and who either still own their Explorer or who sold, ended their lease, or otherwise disposed of it after August 9, 2000.
This is not a recall or a case about personal injuries or wrongful deaths. Instead, the lawsuit claims that Ford concealed what it knew about a dangerous design flaw that increases the Explorer's tendency to roll over, thereby misleading California consumers to buy or lease Explorers, and to pay more than what they should have. The lawsuit seeks money or benefits for the Class.
Ford denies that the Explorers at issue are defective and asserts that the unique handling characteristics of sport utility vehicles ("SUVs") were fully disclosed by it through product literature and government-mandated warnings. Ford notes that Plaintiffs do not claim that the Explorers are more likely to roll over than other comparable SUVs.
The Court has not decided whether the Class or Ford is right. A trial is scheduled to begin on September 25, 2006 at which the lawyers for the Class will have to prove their claims.
The Court appointed Elizabeth J. Cabraser of Lieff Cabraser Heimann and Bernstein LLP, of San Francisco, CA, and Kevin P. Roddy of Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer P.A., of Woodbridge, NJ, to lead the team of plaintiffs' counsel who represent the Class in the California Ford Explorer Cases.
Those who wish to remain members of the Class don't have to do anything at this time and will be informed about any claims process that results from the trial or any proposed settlement. Class members will be bound by all orders and judgments of the Court.
Class members may exclude themselves from the Class. To do so, they must mail a written Exclusion Request form, which is available at www.explorercasuit.com. Exclusion requests must be postmarked by March 14, 2006, and sent to Ford Explorer Exclusions, P.O. Box 4850, Portland, OR 97208-4850. Class members who exclude themselves from the Class cannot participate in any recovery for the Class, and will not be bound by any court orders or judgments.
The lawsuit is entitled Ford Explorer Cases, JCCP Nos. 4266 and 4270 (Sacramento County Superior Court, California). For more information and a detailed Notice, Class members may write to the above address, or see the website at www.explorercasuit.com.