Appeals court: Ford committed fraud by selling defective Super Duty trucks
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Phoebe Wall Howard
Excerpts from the Article by Phoebe Wall Howard
The owner of a 2006 Ford F-350 argued for years that Ford Motor Co. sold Super Duty trucks with defective 6.0L diesel engines to thousands of unsuspecting buyers and then concealed the known problems, saddling customers with repair bills and exposing them to engine failure.
Now an appeals court has agreed with Charles Brian Margeson, 41, of Torrance, California.
“I bought my truck new. It must’ve broken down a couple dozen times and the turbo even blew up,” Margeson told the Free Press. “I started carrying spare hoses with me and leather gloves because everything was super hot and I had to repair it myself on the side of the freeways. We would lose power. I mentioned it to Ford a couple times, saying, ‘Hey, this is a lemon.’ They just laughed it off. I just wanted a truck that worked.”
On his own, Margeson filed a lawsuit in June 2014. He was awarded a total of $940,177.74 in June 2017, but the appeals court determined expert testimony about punitive damages was improper and tossed out that piece of his award — about $726,000. But a new jury, in a trial not yet scheduled, will determine how much Ford must pay him in punitive damages, which by definition is designed to punish the defendant.
In Margeson’s case, the Court of Appeal in California on Sept. 22 upheld the Los Angeles County Superior Court jury verdict that found Ford acted with malice, oppression or fraud by deliberately concealing known defects in its Power Stroke diesel engine. The engine was made by Navistar and used primarily in Super Duty trucks for model years 2003-07.
Margeson, a technician who maintains the electrical grid for Southern California Edison, used internal Ford documents to prove in court the Dearborn automaker knew its diesel engines were bad and put them in the heavy-duty pickups anyway for years.
The jury award to Margeson included the maximum amount allowed for Ford’s violation of California’s lemon law, totaling $214,537.34, plus legal fees. That amount is not in dispute and will go to Margeson.
Bryan Altman of Los Angeles, Margeson’s lawyer, said the new jury will determine how much Ford should be punished monetarily. Because the appellate court found that Ford did commit fraud, the new trial will just be to determine how much punitive damages should be awarded against Ford.
WHAT ARE PUNITIVE DAMAGES
What are Punitive Damages
- Altman Law Group successfully litigated against Ford for lemon law and fraud causes of action.
- The jury returned a verdict against Ford on all causes of action, finding Ford violated the Song-Beverly Act and awarded a 2x civil penalty.
- The jury awarded fraud damages which were appealed by Ford. The appellate court agreed that the evidence demonstrated Ford had committed fraud, but disagreed with certain statements made by Plaintiff’s expert witness. The appellate court ordered a retrial on the amount of punitive damages.