Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Why You Should Opt Out of the Ford Focus / Fiesta Class Action

The rights of 1.5 million Ford Focus and Ford Fiesta owners and lessees are about to be affected by a class action settlement in California. It could cut Ford owners off from $1,000s in damages, attorney fees, and costs. Find out why you should opt out of the Ford Focus / Fiesta Class Action before the September 5, 2017 deadline.

The Class Action Lawsuit

In 2015, a lawyer in California filed a lawsuit for problems with the Ford PowerShift transmission. The class action included owners and lessees of 2012-2016 Ford Focus and 2011-2016 Ford Fiesta vehicles equipped with the defective transmission. These vehicles are prone to dangerous slipping, bucking, kicking, jerking, and shuddering, particularly during heavy acceleration or braking.

The Class Action Settlement

The class action lawsuit settled earlier this year. Unless Ford owners opt out before September 5, 2017, they will be locked into the limited recovery under the settlement:

  • Cash payments up to $2,325 or Discount Certificates up to $4,650 toward the purchase of a new Ford vehicle 
  • Possible repurchase of the defective vehicle through private arbitration
But this settlement ignores significant recovery available to the owners of defective vehicles nationwide.

Recovery Depends on Replacements and Repairs

The amount any Ford Focus or Ford Fiesta owner will receive depends on actual transmission part replacements. Even for three repairs, the award may only be $200 (or $400 in replacement credit). The full $2,325 requires 8 or more separate service trips.

Owners of defective vehicles are entitled to more compensation:

  • Replacement costs 
  • Out-of-pocket expenses 
  • Rental car fees 
  • Lost wages 
  • Inspection fees

While every situation is different, in many cases this will be more than $2,325. 

Ford Fraud Interferes with Recovery

By tying recovery to repairs, the settlement agreement rewards Ford for apparent fraud in its interactions with its customers. It seems Ford and its dealerships discouraged many of its customers from seeking repairs. It charged warranty inspection fees and falsely told owners and lessees there was nothing wrong with their vehicle. They also sought to avoid lemon law violations by calling the same service different things to mask the ongoing problem.

Consumer protection and lemon laws across the country allow consumers to recover compensatory and punitive damages for misrepresentation. But instead, the settlement agreement rewards the company for turning customers away, since these visits may not qualify as a transmission part replacement under the agreement.

Cash Payments or Discount Certificates, Not Both

Owners who are entitled to an award under the settlement have a choice to make: cash payments for their trouble or discount certificates toward replacing their defective vehicle. State and federal lemon laws are not so limited. Ford Focus and Ford Fiesta owners should not have to choose between being compensated for their time and being able to drive a safe vehicle free from ongoing PowerShift Transmission problems. 

Arbitration and Buyback Controlled by Ford

The settlement agreement’s private arbitration is entirely controlled by Ford. The company will choose and pay the arbitrator, creating an unfair bias.

The arbitration procedure also requires Ford owners to establish that the company had notice of the defect before making the claim. Notice is not required under many state and federal laws, but because Ford discouraged owners from seeking repairs, most owners will not be able to satisfy this added requirement, and will be cut off from receiving a buyback.

Buyback arbitration is also “all or nothing” based on the number of repairs, eliminating the possibility to settle for something less than a complete buyback.

Settlement Cuts Out Attorney Fees & Costs

On top of everything else, the settlement agreement significantly limits Ford owners’ ability to receive attorney fees and costs for their claims. Lemon laws often allow for fee-shifting, where the manufacturer must pay for the cost of filing a claim. But the settlement only allows $6,000 in attorney fees for arbitration, and then only if they win. There are no fees available under the cash payout or discount certificate options, even if for significant negotiations about the amount awarded.

The Ford Focus / Fiesta class action settlement in California doesn’t do enough to compensate Ford owners and lessees for their time, costs, and trouble. But if they don’t act before September 5, 2017, they will be locked into a bad deal. If you or someone you know is affected by the class action, visit to learn more about the lawsuits and get your claim started today, before it’s too late.

No comments: