A judge has ruled.
This all started a few years ago when allegations arose that the police-only Ford Explorer Interceptor suffered from an exhaust leak that led into the cabin resulting in officers suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. Ford denied the allegations after conducting its own internal testing, claiming there were no design flaws on its part. Instead, the problem could be traced to police department vehicle modifications, such as drilling holes in the rear bumper area to accommodate special equipment. Was Ford responsible for that despite the fact those mods were done after the vehicles left the factory?
A class-action lawsuit filed by all New York police offers and law enforcement officers who drive 2011-2017 Interceptors pointed the finger directly at the Blue Oval. However, CarComplaints has learned this lawsuit has now been dismissed.
The plaintiffs, Peter Lake and Timothy Creed, both police officers with the Nassau County Police Department of New York, claimed that not only was Ford liable for the design flaws, but it was also aware of the carbon monoxide dangers and actually broke the law because it failed to fix the problems. The officers both allege their health was harmed by inhaling carbon monoxide while driving the vehicles. In February 2018, Lake was involved in a crash allegedly caused by carbon monoxide in his blood. In December 2017, Creed began to suffer from headaches, dizziness, and various other respiratory issues. He too had elevated carbon monoxide levels in his blood.
Ford filed a motion to dismiss both claims, citing a breach of warranty claim. Ford believed the warranty specifically disclaims implied warranties for vehicles used mainly for businesses or commercial purposes, including police vehicles. The judge agreed with Ford because its contract contains a specific disclaimer of all warranties. There were additional claims dismissed by the judge, but one, in particular, stands out. New York General Business Law 349 was dismissed because a plaintiff must prove the business, in this case, Ford, deliberately engaged in materially misleading consumer-oriented conduct.
The judge didn't believe Ford did that because the plaintiffs admitted they themselves did not purchase the vehicles for private use. Furthermore, they didn't directly purchase the vehicles at all and are, therefore, not considered consumers under section 349. This ruling could be a significant victory for Ford. These plaintiffs were not the only police officers who believe their carbon monoxide poisoning originated from Ford Interceptors. Potential future lawsuits against Ford regarding this issue will now have to contend with this ruling's precedent.