Ford wins dismissal of $2B judgment in commercial-truck pricing suit
DETROIT (Bloomberg) -- The Ohio Court of Appeals has thrown out a $2 billion award against Ford Motor Co. and ordered a new trial for a class of commercial-truck dealers who claimed the automaker overcharged them for 11 years.
The reversal of the largest judgment Ford had faced was revealed by the automaker today in a government filing. The state appeals court in Cleveland found May 3 that the trial judge improperly excluded evidence presented by Ford. The dealers can request that the Ohio Supreme Court review the ruling.
The dealers sued Ford in 2002, claiming the company broke an agreement to sell trucks at published prices, which forced them to pay more from 1987 through 1998 and cut into profits.
Cuyahoga County Judge Peter J. Corrigan last June upheld a $4.5 million verdict awarded to one Ohio dealer in February 2011 by a Cleveland jury. He also said Ford had to pay similar damages and interest to a class of about 3,000 other dealers.
"We look forward to trying the case before a jury that will be able to consider all the evidence that was improperly excluded in the first trial," Marcey Evans, a Ford spokeswoman, said today in an interview.
The $2 billion award was five times higher than the largest-ever jury award against Ford in a lawsuit, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News.
The largest jury verdict against Ford was for $369 million in a products-defect case awarded in California in 2004. That verdict was later reduced by trial and appellate courts.
James Lowe, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, declined to comment.
Ford had been identifying the $2 billion award as a financial risk it faced in U.S. filings.
The total comprised $800 million in damages and $1.2 billion in pre-judgment interest, Ford said in the filing today.
Ford was accused in the lawsuit of breaching an agreement with truck dealers by failing to publish to all of them all price concessions that were approved for any dealer, the company said in a regulatory filing.
Corrigan allowed the dealers to pursue claims against Ford in a class action, or group suit, in 2005. The class includes all Ford dealers who bought from the company any 600 series or higher truck over a period of about 11 years, starting in 1987.Contact Automotive News