A California judge, earlier this week, approved a class action settlement for about 800,000 owners of the Ford Explorer sport utility vehicles, which were said to have lost value following an extensive tire recall stemming from concerns over potential rollover crashes. According to a Reuters news report, Judge David Alba approved the settlement in Sacramento on the Explorer class action lawsuit, which includes vehicles purchased or leased between 1991 and 2001 in the states of California, Illinois, Texas and Connecticut.
The lawsuit by Explorer owners, who by the way have every right to be dissatisfied and upset, did not make any personal injury or damage claims, but alleged a loss of financial value for the Explorers. As per the settlement, Ford Motor Co. has agreed to issue discount certificates valid for one year worth $500 toward the purchase or lease of the new Explorer or $300 toward the purchase or lease of any other new Ford, Mercury or Lincoln vehicle.
Ford is also going to pay out $25 million to the attorneys representing the class members. Of course, company officials continue to say that the case was “without merit” and that somehow, they proved it in court. As personal injury attorneys who have represented numerous victims of Ford Explorer and Expedition rollover crashes, we know that Ford’s statements are without merit.
The Ford Explorer is a badly designed vehicle that is unstable. Its roof strength may be up to federal standards, but those standards badly need updating. The roof, especially in the earlier model Explorers, still cave in and cause major head and/or spinal cord injuries to its occupants. The vehicle they have marketed to consumers as a safe, family vehicle is really not what they say it is.
This class action may not seem like a major victory to consumers. In fact, we’ve seen comments that this lawsuit was just a money maker for the attorneys involved, that Ford got away and the consumers once again got the short end of the stick. Is that true? Let’s look at these facts. Ford has already spent millions defending this lawsuit. That has to have made a dent somewhere. Also, the company’s brand image has taken a serious blow with this suit. Consumers, especially those who have been affected, their families and friends, will probably never buy a Ford vehicle again.
This lawsuit will become an example for other manufacturers, who will look at what Ford did and say that they will never make such a mistake again. And that’s how we as consumers have benefited from this class action lawsuit. This is exactly how a class action lawsuit was supposed to work.
The attorneys who represented the class members have done a great service to us by having the conviction and commitment to go after an industry giant. It’s true that the class members only got a measly discount they may not even use. But the true purpose of class action lawsuits is not to make class members rich, but to keep negligent and fraudulent corporations in check and hold them accountable for their actions.