Ford Motor Co. has agreed to settle a class action covering some 2.2 million consumers’ claims that its vehicles had defective spark plugs that were difficult and expensive to replace. Pursuant to the settlement agreement, the automaker will reimburse a portion of customers’ replacement costs. Plaintiffs in the multidistrict litigation, which includes six separate lawsuits on behalf of Plaintiffs in two dozen states, have requested an Ohio federal court to approve the settlement. Under the terms of the settlement, Ford would reimburse a percentage of costs incurred by customers who paid at least $37.50 to replace each plug.
The settlement provides for Ford to reimburse a higher percentage of out-of-pocket costs borne by customers who spent even more in replacing the plugs. Ford will also pay some $5.2 million in Plaintiffs’ attorney’s fees. The settlement would cover customers who have bought or leased Fords in model years 2004-08 in the U.S. that had a 5.4-liter three-valve engine. The cases were consolidated in Ohio federal court in 2012. Ford had objected to the consolidations claiming that centralizing the cases would only delay their resolution.
The Plaintiffs claimed that the spark plugs, which were the subject of a Ford technical bulletin, accumulate hydrocarbon residue that cements them to the engine and make them prone to breaking during removal. They said that left part of the plug attached to the cylinder head and added time and expense to routine maintenance work. In a July decision that partially granted Ford’s summary judgment motion, U.S. District Judge Benita Pearson found that Ford knew about the defect as far back as 1997 when the vehicles were being developed, and that the problems remained after the vehicles were launched. Ford had challenged that finding as well as others. The case is in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.
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