Nearly 12,500 Ford Fiesta and Focus owners with allegedly defective transmissions have opted out of a proposed settlement and plan to sue the automaker this month. The proposed settlement was announced in March and would provide “substantial cash payments” and other benefits to the owners of about 1.5 million vehicles, resolving a class action over vehicles with PowerShift transmissions. Sept. 5 was the last day owners of 2011-2016 Fiestas and 2012-2016 Focuses could opt out of the settlement, and many did. Reportedly, 4,500 did so between July 5 and the final day.
A mass action is being planned to be filed against Ford seeking a buyback and damages for depreciation, repair costs, inconvenience and lost wages. The main criticism of the settlement relates to its compensation structure. Those who did not opt out would be forced into arbitration to pursue their claims for damages. The two-month opt out period was said to be too short, which could limit the number of people who could opt out.
An approval hearing was scheduled for Oct. 2, but since this issue was already on the way to the printer on that date, we don’t have anything to report. The class is represented by Jordan L. Lurie, Tarek H. Zohdy, Cody R. Padgett and Karen L. Wallace of Capstone Law APC, Russell D. Paul of Berger & Montague and Thomas A. Zimmerman Jr. of Zimmerman Law. The case is Omar Vargas et al. v. Ford Motor Co., (case number 2:12-cv-08388) in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.