(CN) – Ford Freestar owners whose transmissions failed due to a manufacturing defect cannot sue Ford as a class because the terms of their warranties must be individually proven, a federal judge ruled.
James Genovese, Henri Caron, and Edward Daigle were owners of model year 2004 or 2005 Ford Freestar minivans.
Some time after purchasing the vehicle, the plaintiffs were driving down the road when the engine started to rev and the car stopped responding to the accelerator pedal.
Each of them had to pay out of pocket to replace their transmissions.
In a class action filed in 2009, the plaintiffs claimed that Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans in 2004, 2005, and 2006 were built with a manufacturing defect in the vehicles’ torque converter. In the District of Minnesota, they claimed Ford breached its express and implied warranties.
In a car, the transmission connects via a shaft with grooved ends to a torque converter, which connects the engine. In the plaintiffs’ minivans, the torque converter failed, stripping the grooves connecting it to the transmission, which in turn failed.
After the action was filed, Ford issued a recall on 2004-2005 Freestars and Montereys instructing owners to take their car to a dealer for a free new torque converter.
Finding their claims inappropriate for class action, U.S. District Judge Michael Davis denied the plaintiffs’ motion for class certification and granted Ford’s motion for summary judgment.
“The warranty provides that ‘Bumper to Bumper’ coverage begins on the warranty start date and ends after ‘three years or 36,000 miles, whichever occurs first.’ Because the express warranty upon which plaintiffs’ rely is limited, whether this warranty was in effect for each class member requires individual proof,” the judge said.
The plaintiffs’ claim for breach of implied warranty likewise required individualized proof, the court found.
“In addition, Ford’s voluntary safety recall of 2004-05 Freestars and Montereys, which provides for the installation of a new or remanufactured torque converter, or a refund to those who paid to service their vehicle prior to the recall, provides most of the putative class the relief it seeks. …
“Ford does acknowledge that there may be class members that paid to have the entire transmission replaced, and who may not be fully reimbursed because replacement of the entire transmission is not required to repair the defective torque converter. Despite the possibility that certain class members will not be fully reimbursed through the recall, the Court nonetheless finds that the recall weighs against a finding that a class action is a superior method of adjudication of the claims asserted in this case,” Davis added.
After dismissing the plaintiffs’ class claims, Davis dismissed each plaintiff’s individual claims as well.Daigle bought his Freestar used, “after the New Vehicle Warranty had expired, therefore his claim of breach of implied warranty has no merit,” the court found. Genovese’s claim is subject to Maryland’s four year statute of limitation, which has expired, and Caron bought his minivan used from Duval Ford, not Ford Motor Company.