— A New York lawsuit that alleges Ford F-150 doors won't latch closed in the cold will continue after the judge refused to grant Ford's motion to dismiss the complaint.
The class-action lawsuit includes former and current New York owners and lessees of 2015-2017 Ford F-150 trucks.
Plaintiff Brandon Kommer says he purchased an F-150 in October 2015, but soon after the doors started to give him problems in the cold weather. The plaintiff claims the doors wouldn't latch closed and the locks wouldn't open when the temperatures dropped below freezing.
In addition, Kommer claims the door handles wouldn't move, so he took the truck to a dealership for repairs. The plaintiff claims he made five trips to the Ford dealer between October 2015 and February 2017 but the first three attempts failed to fix the door latch issues.
Kommer says the fourth dealer visit resulted in technicians telling him about a technical service bulletin (TSB) Ford had issued about door problems, and the plaintiff says he was told the needed parts would be ordered. The door was eventually repaired in February 2017, but the plaintiff claims the door failed a few weeks later.
The lawsuit alleges Ford knew the F-150 suffered from door lock and handle problems before the plaintiff bought his F-150, but the automaker concealed that knowledge to save money on repairs.
On April 8, 2015, Ford issued a TSB to dealers about 2015 F-150 door latches that may not work “during or after freezing temperatures.” Ford issued a second TSB on November 18, 2016, that included the same door latch and handle information, but the second bulletin included 2016-2017 models.
The original lawsuit was filed in March 2017 alleging Ford intentionally misrepresented the durability of F-150 trucks in advertisements, but Ford filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit the following month.
The judge ruled the "Built Ford Tough" advertisements were mere "puffery" and dismissed Kommer’s misrepresentation claim with prejudice, but granted leave to amend his failure to disclose claim.
Kommer amended the lawsuit by alleging Ford failed to disclose the F-150 had defective door latches and locks. Ford in return told the judge Kommer’s failure to disclose claim fails because the plaintiff can't prove Ford knew of the defect when he bought his truck.
According to the lawsuit, Ford's bulletins prove the automaker knew the door latches and handles were defective, but Ford argues those bulletins arise due to consumer complaints. The automaker says sending a bulletin to a dealership isn't an admission of knowing about defects.
According to Ford, the plaintiff cannot rely on the TSBs to allege Ford knew about an alleged defect in the F-150 because legally the bulletins are "insufficient to create an inference of knowledge."
However, the judge didn't see things the same way. Although technical service bulletins are sent only to dealerships and not directly to customers, the judge ruled it is at least plausible Ford had exclusive information about alleged defects in the door latches and locks when Kommer purchased his truck.
Ford also argues the F-150 lawsuit should be dismissed because “requiring disclosures for all potential issues within a given vehicle would lead to long lists of issues that might never arise, diminishing the usefulness of any information the buyer receives.”
Furthermore, Ford argues Kommer’s F-150 was sold with a warranty agreement, which means Ford didn't need to inform the plaintiff of possible defects when the truck was sold. But according to the judge, "both arguments are meritless."
The Ford F-150 door latch and handle lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court Northern District of New York - Brandon Kommer, et al, v. Ford Motor Company.
The plaintiff is represented by Denlea & Carton LLP.