Ford Transmission Lawsuit Powershifts Into Appeal Mode; How Much Green Will the Blue Oval Pay?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
ford transmission lawsuit powershifts into appeal mode how much green will the blue

A class-action lawsuit filed against Ford Motor company in 2017 is close to bearing fruit for nearly two million current or former owners, but Ford could find itself on the hook for far more than the $35 million reached in an earlier settlement.

The automaker is awaiting the results of an appeal by nonprofit advocacy group Public Citizen, which felt the 1.9 million Ford Focus and Fiesta buyers whose lives were disrupted by wonky PowerShift transmissions would only end up getting shafted, once again.

As it waits for the U.S. Court of Appeals ruling, Ford claims the settlement was a fair one. The owners of 2012-2016 Focuses and 2011-2016 Fiestas beg to differ. Individual owners have already sued Ford and won big, compensating them for an unending nightmare of service trips and breakdowns.

In a message sent to the Detroit Free Press, the automaker said, “Ford is committed to providing our customers with top-quality vehicles. We continue to deny the allegations in this lawsuit, but rather than continuing with the litigation, Ford entered into a settlement agreement with lawyers representing these plaintiffs. That settlement is fair and appropriate and we look forward to final court approval.”

A ruling could come by December, the newspaper reports. If a panel of appellate judges decides in the litigants’ favor, Ford could be on the hook for a lot more than $35 million.

Michael Kirkpatrick of Public Citizen thinks Ford believes there’s a chance the earlier settlement will be tossed out.

“Given the way the oral argument went, Ford’s lawyers anticipate losing the appeal,” Kirkpatrick said of the April 8th hearing. “And they want to get out ahead of this. They have this huge liability they thought they had put to bed through a class-action settlement that was an exceptionally good deal for them.”

Ford’s troubles with its six-speed dual-clutch automatic are well documented. Numerous service bulletins, software reflashes, and lawsuits later, it still hasn’t put the trouble-plagued tranny in the past. The current class action involves 1.5 million current and 400,000 former owners. Owners who choose to go it alone in their quest to sue Ford in the state of California number some 1,200. Another group hitting Ford with a “mass action” lawsuit in Wayne County, Michigan numbers 12,300.

Calls for a recall or buyback program fell on deaf ears in Dearborn. Instead, many owners say they were left in the lurch, even after repeated repairs that didn’t solve the problem.

“This was a windfall release for Ford,” Kirkpatrick told Freep. “People would be giving up their claims of very high value. We know Ford has been settling cases for $75,000 right off the bat when people bring their own lawsuits under California consumer protection law.”

He added, “Once Ford is released, they’re no longer bound. This is about fairness. Ford is purchasing a release from liability at a very low price. Most ‘class’ members will get nothing, and the attorneys make big fees.”

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  • DeadWeight DeadWeight on May 10, 2019

    F *cked O ver R eally D eeply Rolling dumpster fire vehicles, with possibly three exceptions out of their entire lineup, with what is one of the worst dealership networks and massive lack of consumer support by HQ, all reflected in resale values. Repeat Ford/Lincoln buyers are heavy into sadomasochism; each Ford/Lincoln vehicle should come with a large package of BDSM gear so that Ford/Lincoln dealerships can use restraints on vehicle owners and painfully penetrate them with all manner of injurious objects when they inevitably take their vehicles in for repairs a minimum 2 times per month.

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    • Darwinian Darwinian on May 13, 2019

      The real Truth About Cars. Just about given up on this site until this comment.

  • HotPotato HotPotato on May 11, 2019

    FWIW, my company's got a huge fleet consisting largely of PowerShift Foci. Maybe the fleet manager knows something I don't and is hating life, but my sense of them, about five years in, is they're just fine. The car itself drives great, and as long as you accept that the PowerShift transmission is a manual with a computer doing the clutchy parts for you, it's fine too.

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