Ford Motor Company knowingly launched sales of the Focus and Fiesta models with defective transmissions and continued to sell them despite thousands of complaints, according to a recent investigation by the Detroit Free Press. The cars were put on sale in 2010-11 and at least 1.5 million remain on the road. The defective transmissions can result in random loss of power on the freeway or unexpected bolting into intersections.
Documents show Ford’s lawyers told engineers in 2008, during development of the cars, that they were worried about the safety of the clutch technology. Ford’s lawyers noted that the transmission’s tendency to slip out of gear, combined with other conditions, would result in a “Severity 10” rating, which is the worst rating under global engineering protocols designed to minimize risk and comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards set by the U.S. government. However, Ford publicly contends the cars are not safety risks because, even if the cars slip out of gear while driving, the power steering, brakes, and passenger restraints continue to function and the driver should be able to coast to the side of the road safely.
Nevertheless, in April 2019, Ford warned its shareholders about legal exposure it faces as a result of the defective transmissions in a Security and Exchange Commission filing. Numerous lawsuits, involving over 1 million plaintiffs, have been filed seeking damages based on state and federal consumer protection laws, breach of warranty and fraud. Exposure in these lawsuits could reach $4 billion.
If you or someone you know has been injured as the result of an accident involving a defective Ford Fiesta or Ford Fusion transmission that slipped out of gear, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling 713-231-9360 or toll free at 1‑800-594-4884.