Imagine your brand new car stalls unexpectedly, shudders, or shoots forward without warning. Imagine the company responsible said it was all in your head. Now imagine that 8 years later, you are still waiting to see if you are entitled to fair compensation for your trouble. That’s what is happening to drivers in the Ford Focus and Fiesta transmission defect cases. But the wait may soon be over.
Ford Knew About Its Transmission Defect, Told Drivers It Was Nothing
The first Ford vehicles with DPS6 transmissions rolled off the line nine years ago. But even as these Fiesta and Focus sedans hit dealerships, Ford already knew the vehicles had a problem. Internal documents show that production of the transmission was rushed, and the product contained a “Severity 10” mechanical issue (the worst kind) that caused “unintentional neutral events.”
In other words, the cars fell out of gear.
In one memo, Ford product development engineer Tod Langeland warned his supervisors that the transmission’s calibration was suffering from wide fluctuations in clutch torque, resulting in “nasty launch judder.” He warned:
“With the present state of affairs, we cannot achieve a stable calibration for conducting our 3-months-late clutch sign-off testing. We also cannot achieve a drivable calibration that will get us to production. The clutch torque delivery MUST BE IMPROVED!”
Consumers Report Serious Transmission Defects in New Ford Fiesta, Focus Vehicles
But it wasn’t. Instead, Ford shipped the Fiesta and Focus lines with the defective DPS6 transmission to dealerships across the country. Once consumers got their hands on the vehicles, the problems were quickly apparent. Fiesta and Focus owners reported their vehicles would:
- Shudder and shake on start up or when slowing
- Sudden down-shifting
- Failing to shift
- Drifting when shifting into park or revers
- Sudden reduction in power
- Slow acceleration
- Stalled or delayed start
- Sudden acceleration
By 2012, the company’s internal reports acknowledge the cars had been rushed to production and their quality had suffered. But they claimed they didn’t have a fix. But rather than recalling the vehicle or offering a buyback, the company told dealers to blame the drivers. They said consumers who complained were simply not used to the DPS6’s dry-clutch design.
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Considers Setting Aside Class Action Settlement
Many consumers didn’t believe it was their fault. Product defect cases began to spring up across the country as consumers used their various state consumer protection laws to demand Ford take responsibility for selling lemons.
A California law firm put together a nationwide class action, Vargas v Ford Motor Company. That lawsuit claimed to represent the interests of Fiesta and Focus owners nationwide, seeking relief for the transmission defect and their related industries. But when that lawsuit settled, Ford owners in states with stronger consumer protection laws found they had lost their rights and were being forced to settle for less.
A number of these consumers appealed the settlement and the case is currently under consideration by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The court heard arguments on April 8, 2019, and a decision is expected any day.
Michigan Mass Action Goes On For Those Who Opt Out, Aren’t Covered by Settlement
Here in Michigan, The Liblang Law Firm, PC, took up the cause of a number of Ford drivers, filing individual lawsuits on behalf of injured motorists and eventually bringing a mass action complaint, combining many individual plaintiffs claim into one large lawsuit. This mass action continues in spite of the class action settlement. Individuals who do not qualify as part of the class can pursue an individual action to defend their rights and protect their claims. This includes those who:
- Opted out
- Filed their claim before the class action started
- Bought their Ford Focus or Fiesta as a “Certified Used” vehicle
If the court decides to set aside the Vargas decision, all those owners and lessees will be entitled to file their own claims as well.
The Liblang Law Firm Stands With Ford Focus, Fiesta Drivers
The lemon law lawyers at The Liblang Law Firm, PC, have been involved in complaints against Ford for its transmission defects from the very beginning. With over 35 years of experience, Attorney Dani K. Liblang is one of the state’s preeminent lawyers handling vehicle defects like these. We have the resources, experience, and knowledge to help you protect your rights. Get started now. Contact The Liblang Law Firm, PC, for a free consultation.