NEW YORK -- Suzuki Motor Corp. said on Monday a U.S. court again ruled that it can pursue a lawsuit against the publisher of Consumer Reports magazine over a 1988 article which claimed the Suzuki Samurai was more likely to roll over than other sport utility vehicles.
Suzuki said the U.S. Court of Appeals in California reaffirmed a June 2002 ruling that Suzuki had presented enough information to warrant a jury trial on its claim that Consumer Reports rigged tests of the vehicle before giving it a "not acceptable" rating.
The court said in its ruling that "evidence of financial motive dovetails with the evidence of test-rigging," according to Suzuki. The case will now be sent back to the U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, California, for a jury trial.
The company said it will seek damages for its lost sales of Samurais and other vehicles, if it can prove that those losses were caused by disparaging statements made by Consumers Union.
Suzuki had sold about 120,000 of the inexpensive Samurais by June 1988, when Consumer Reports, which is published by consumers union, said the Samurai could roll over during tight turns and gave the vehicle a "not acceptable" rating, the first of its kind from the magazine.
Samurai sales tumbled about 70 percent, but recovered slightly after Suzuki started offering $2,000 incentives to dealers. The Samurai was discontinued a few years later.
Suzuki sued, claiming that Consumers Union faked the tests to draw attention to itself in the midst of a fund-raising drive.
Consumers Union was founded in 1936 and has made Consumer Reports one of the most respected consumer publications in the country.