Week Adjourned: 6.27.14 – Ford, Caterpillar, Kashi

The week’s top class action lawsuits and settlements. Top stories this week include Ford, Caterpillar and Kashi.

Ford 2Top Class Action Lawsuits

It was Ford’s turn this week…its turn to face the class action blues…yessiree—they got hit with a consumer fraud lawsuit alleging personal harm from what appears to be a rather serious design defect.

The Ford lawsuit was filed in Florida by Ford Explorer owners and lessors alleging the automaker mislead consumers about the vehicles’ exhaust system that exposes passengers to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.

Filed by lead plaintiff Angela Sanchez-Knutson, the complaint alleges that when the air conditioning is on in the Ford Motor Co. sport utility vehicle, the exhaust leaks into the passenger cabin of the cars. This poses a health risk to those in the cars and a safety risk to people on the road.

Sanchez-Knutson further claims that she and her daughter suffer from chronic headaches as a result of exposure to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide in her 2013 Ford Explorer. She alleges she took the car to the local dealership for repair numerous times because of a sulfuric smell. However, at no point in time was she informed that the odor actually signified exposure to the gas.

An internal technical service bulletin distributed by Ford to its dealerships showed that the automaker was aware that certain Explorer models’ exhaust systems were leaking into the cabins of the cars when the air conditioning was turned on, the complaint states.

The bulletin provided dealerships with instructions on how handle the smell in the vehicles but did not specify that carbon monoxide was seeping into the cabins or provide any remedies to protect consumers from the risk of exposure, according to the lawsuit.

“Ford knew or should have known that the 2011 through 2013 model year Ford Explorers were dangerous and defective such that drivers and passengers of those vehicles may be exposed to carbon monoxide and other dangerous gases while the vehicles are in operation,” the complaint states.

The complaint alleges Ford violated the vehicles’ express and limited warranties, since the contracts guaranteed that the vehicles were defect-free. All of the affected vehicles are still under warranty with the company, the lawsuit states.

As a result of filing the lawsuit, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that it is looking into the exhaust allegations. The agency said it was aware of complaints involving the vehicles but that it had not initiated a formal investigation.

The lawsuit seeks to certify a class of all consumers in Florida who purchased or leased the 2011 to 2013 Explorer models. The suit is Sanchez-Knutson v. Ford Motor Company, case number 0:14-cv-61344, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Exhausted yet? Wait–there’s more! Caterpillar Inc. also got hit with a class action lawsuit over claims that its heavy-duty on-highway diesel engines, designed to adhere to 2007 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emissions regulations, contain a design defect that requires extensive repairs and replacements. Nice!! This is all sounding so familiar!

The Caterpillar lawsuit alleges Caterpillar’s 2007-2010 model C-13 and C-15 engines have defective exhaust emission controls which make the vehicles unreliable for transportation. Further, despite repeated repairs, they cannot be permanently fixed.

According to the complaint, the engines’ exhaust emission control systems regularly detect warning and shutdown readings from the software used to regulate and monitor certain components, causing the vehicle to require authorized exhaust emission control diagnoses that eventually are unable to rectify the problem.

“This caused plaintiff and class members to incur significant damages in the diminution of the value of their vehicles, but also in the cost of replacing the … engines with other EPA 2007 Emission Standard compliant heavy-duty, on-highway, diesel engines.” the lawsuit states.

K Double D Inc, lead plaintiff in the class action, alleges it purchased a vehicle featuring the 2007 heavy-duty on-highway diesel engine that suffered engine and regeneration problems, which resulted in thousands of dollars in damages to the company.

Further, K Double D claims that despite extensive repair work, the engine experienced repeated instances of warning lights illuminating, engine derating and shutdown, regeneration failure and more, as well as other failures that prevented it from working properly.

“Despite defendant’s numerous attempts to correct the … failures, the … engine exhaust emission controls do not function as required under all operating conditions, and will not do so for the expected life of the vehicle,” the lawsuit states.

The lead plaintiff seeks to represent a class of all vehicle owners and lessees who purchased or leased a vehicle containing the engines. The lawsuit alleges claims of breach of express and implied warranty, negligence, unfair and deceptive acts and more.

The suit is K Double D Inc. v. Caterpillar Inc., case number 1:14-cv-01760, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.

Top Settlements

Heads up all you California crunchy granolas!  A settlement has been reached in a consumer fraud class action lawsuit pending against Kashi Co. According to the terms of the settlement, a fund of $5 million will be established by Kashi, which will resolve claims of false advertising, the grounds for the lawsuit.

Ok—so I think we know the tune here—the Kashi lawsuit, Astiana v. Kashi Co., Case No. 3:11-cv-01967-H-BGS, alleged the food manufacturer misled consumers by claiming that certain of its products are “All Natural” and “Nothing Artificial” even though they contained synthetic ingredients, such as pyridoxine, hydrochloride, calcium pantothenate and/or hexane-processed soy ingredients. Got it?

Class Members of the Kashi class action settlement include California residents who purchased certain Kashi products between August 24, 2007 and May 1, 2014.

Ok–Folkswe’re done herehave a great weekend and we’ll see you at the bar!

 

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