A California federal judge has given final approval to the class action settlement between Ford Focus and Fiesta drivers and the automaker, ending a five-year-old lawsuit over defective transmissions. There were numerous objections to the agreement. U.S. District Judge Andre Birotte Jr. said he had determined that the settlement, which was announced in March, is fair and reasonable and that none of the objectors, either alone or together, convinced him otherwise. As a “claims made” agreement under which Ford Motor Co. must pay out all legitimate claims, the settlement does not have a set value, but an expert for the drivers has estimated its value at $35 million.
The settlement will provide “substantial cash payments” and other benefits to people across the U.S. who owned or leased new or used 2011-2016 Fiestas and 2012-2016 Focuses – a total of about 1.5 million vehicles. The drivers claimed that the vehicles’ PowerShift transmissions malfunctioned in a way that caused their cars to buck, kick or jerk when they attempted to accelerate. The benefits include at least $200 in cash for drivers who had to have their transmission repaired at least three times, or a discount toward the purchase of another Ford vehicle.
Drivers will be able to collect increasing amounts for every repair after the third one, for a possible $2,325 in cash or $4,650 in credit each. It also provides cash payments for software repairs and an arbitration process for drivers who want Ford to repurchase their vehicles. Objectors who want to preserve fraud and other similar claims can opt out. Almost 12,500 persons have done so.
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.