SAN JOSE (CN) - A federal judge Monday refused to dismiss a class action about faulty power steering in Ford Fusions and Focuses despite Ford's recall of 420,000 of the cars.
U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh on Monday denied Ford's motion to dismiss for lack of standing and mootness.
Lead plaintiff William Philips says Ford concealed defects in its Electronic Power-Assisted Steering (EPAS) system on the used 2011 Ford Fusion he bought in March 2012 to avoid costly repairs. He weeks to represent a class of Californians who bought or leased 2010-2014 Fusions, and 2012-2014 Focuses.
Ford recalled the defective cars last year, and moved to dismiss the class action as moot.
Koh refused, finding "Ford's standing argument involves factual disputes that implicate the merits of California plaintiffs' claims."
She said that resolution of these disputes "is essential to determining what caused the defects at issue, whether and when Ford knew about these defects, and whether these defects were isolated."
Philips claims that "Ford concealed the fact that the EPAS system is prone to sudden and premature failure from consumers so that the warranty period on the defective vehicles would expire before consumers were aware of the problem."
He says Ford "recklessly risked the safety of occupants of the defective vehicles and the public at large" by concealing defects and continuing to market the EPAS system as a "reliable and beneficial product."
Ford's EPAS system includes a power steering control motor, electronic control unit, torque sensor and steering wheel position sensor, but Philips says it has a defect that "renders the system prone to sudden and premature failure."
Philips says that after complaining repeatedly to Ford about the problem, it told him it would cost $2,000 to fix, and offered to pay only half of it. He did not repair it then, in 2013, but Ford recalled his car in July 2015 and fixed the problem.
When the EPAS system fails, drivers "experience significantly increased steering effort and an increased risk of losing control" when their cars suddenly switch to manual steering, according to the complaint.
Philips et al. say their personal experiences, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation of the EPAS steering system in the Ford Explorer, and similar complaints by other California drivers amply demonstrate their claims.
Ford recalled 422,131 defective cars in 2015 and has repaired about 51 percent of them, including the EPAS system in 8,000 cars as of December 2015.
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