A team of lawyers in Beasley Allen’s Consumer Fraud & Commercial Litigation Section has filed a new class action lawsuit against Ford Motor Company. This class action expands a class action we filed in January 2021 concerning brake failure in certain Ford F-150 pickup trucks, Ford Expeditions, and Lincoln Navigators. While the existing class action includes vehicles Ford previously recalled to repair a dangerous brake system defect, the new lawsuit alleges that the same problem affects newer models and other engine configurations. Our investigation of these brake failures has found that many consumers continue to drive in vehicles that Ford has not recalled or admitted there is a problem.
Ford’s Brake Master Cylinder Defect
For years, drivers have complained of brake failure in 2013-2019 Ford F-150 pickup trucks. Lawsuits alleging problems with defective sealing mechanisms in the master cylinder continued mounting to include 2015-2019 Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs.
The Hitachi step-bore master cylinder in these vehicles contains a rear seal that can fail prematurely, causing the brake fluid to leak externally into the brake booster. We contend that a middle seal can also fail in these master cylinders, which can cause brake fluid pressure to leak/recirculate internally.
In either situation, the leaking reduces front braking power and shifts the braking responsibility to the rear brakes. When this happens, the vehicle requires a much longer stopping distance or experiences a complete loss of braking power. Trucks and SUVs disabled by this defect pose a serious safety hazard to drivers, vehicle occupants, and other motorists in the vicinity.
Ford’s Deficient Recalls
Ford recalled the brake system in 2013-2018 Ford F-150 pickup trucks and 2016-2017 Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs in three separate recalls. But instead of recalling all vehicles with the defective Hitachi brake system, Ford limited the recalls to vehicles with one specific engine, the 3.5L GTDI Ecoboost.
Ford did not recall trucks and SUVs equipped with other engine packages combined with the same faulty system that leaks and loses pressure in the front brakes. This is especially troubling because Ford equipped about half its 2013-2019 F-150s with a 5.0 V8 engine package and the same defective brake system. Yet these 5.0L V8-powered trucks are not included in any of the recalls. We believe these exclusions endanger lives.
It’s also troubling that Ford started adding the same defective brake system in its Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs in 2015, yet did not recall them until 2022. Ford recalled the SUVs several years after recalling its F-150s in 2016 over the same defective braking systems because of their high failure rate. That means Ford knew these braking systems were dangerously defective well before 2016. But instead of promptly recalling the affected vehicles, it waited seven years to warn drivers of the braking hazards the Ford and Lincoln SUVs posed. No matter how you look at it, this delay and Ford’s refusal to recall all the vehicles affected by the faulty brake system needlessly put countless lives at risk.
Drivers of Unrecalled Models at Risk
Drivers of the vehicles affected but not recalled have no way of learning about the defect unless they hear about it word of mouth or experience the defect failure in their own vehicle. For those who do know of the defect or experience first-hand the results of it, Ford expects them to have the appropriate dealership repairs made at their own expense.
The New Class Action
Beasley Allen’s team of lawyers litigating the new class action, Terry Klepac v. Ford Motor Company, includes Dee Miles, who heads our Consumer Fraud & Commercial Litigation Section. The court appointed Dee as Co-Lead Class Counsel and class representative. Other Beasley Allen lawyers handling this case are Clay Barnett, who leads the trial team, and Rebecca Gilliland, Dylan Martin, and Mitch Williams. We are litigating the case with Co-Counsel from the Miller Law Firm PC, Dicello Levitt and Lieff Cabraser Heimann Bernstein, LLP.
The complaint, filed on March 15, 2023, in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, details the harrowing crash our Texas plaintiff and his wife experienced when the master cylinder and brakes completely failed in his V8-equipped 2019 Ford F-150.
The lawsuit seeks damages for class members who purchased or leased a 2019 Ford F-150 truck, 2015-2019 Ford Expedition or 2015-2019 Lincoln Navigator equipped with a 2.7L, 3.5L, 5.0L, 6.2L, or other engine and a Hitachi step-bore master cylinder.
Weidman, et. al. v. Ford Motor Co.
As mentioned previously, the new class action expands product defect claims asserted in a January 2021 class action lawsuit.
In April 2022, Michigan Federal Judge Gershwin Drain gave the green light to product defect claims in Weidman, et. al. v. Ford Motor Co., certifying a class of consumers who purchased or leased a 2013-2018 Ford F-150 equipped with the Hitachi step-bore master cylinder but not included in Ford’s 2020 safety recall in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, and Texas.
Judge Drain held that common questions of fact exist in the plaintiffs’ claims and should be heard by a jury to determine whether there is a brake system defect in the class vehicles, whether Ford knew about the brake system defect before selling affected vehicles, and whether the brake system defect is material.