— A Ford Explorer carbon monoxide lawsuit has been dismissed after Washington police officers failed to convince the judge that multiple medical conditions were all caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.
The plaintiffs allege 2011-2018 Ford Explorers were designed and manufactured with flaws that “cause the presence of exhaust fumes, including carbon monoxide, in the passenger compartment while the vehicles are in use.”
According to the plaintiffs, carbon monoxide poisoning can cause symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain and confusion.
But the plaintiffs allege Ford has known about defects that cause exhaust fumes in Explorers since 2012 but concealed that information from police officers and continued to sell its vehicles to police departments.
The lawsuit references customer complaints about Explorer exhaust fumes entering the cabins and allegedly causing headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, lightheadedness and incidents of passing out.
The officers who sued claim they “became sick, disorganized, foggy headed, suffered medical illnesses; heart attack like symptoms, chronic carbon monoxide poisoning, acute carbon monoxide poisoning, fatigue, nausea and other disabling injury.”
The officers allege Ford hasn't compensated drivers or occupants for the carbon monoxide and exhaust fume dangers, and dealerships are unable to correctly repair the Explorers.
One trooper claims he is unable to work due to permanent brain damage caused by carbon monoxide, while other troopers allege the SUVs are too dangerous to drive.
According to the class action, multiple Explorer components are defective, including the rear air extractors, bumpers, tail pipes, exhaust manifolds and air intakes.
In granting Ford's motion to dismiss the lawsuit, the judge ruled there is a problem with fraud claims alleged by the officers because none of the officers had transactions directly with Ford considering the Explorers were issued to the plaintiffs by their police departments.
"Consequently, their damages could not have arisen purely out of Ford’s alleged fraud, as would be the case if Ford had sold them defective vehicles that are worth less than had been represented." - Judge Ronald B. Leighton
And according to Judge Leighton:
"Given that Plaintiffs never purchased vehicles, the Court is somewhat baffled about what purely economic loss they possibly could have suffered. But this is somewhat unsurprising, as Plaintiffs’ recurring theme in this case has been trying to fit the square peg of fraud into the round hole of personal injury."
The judge also dismissed certain claims after Ford pointed out how none of the plaintiffs plead how or when they were allegedly exposed to exhaust fumes or what model year vehicles they drove.
According to the judge, the lawsuit provides almost no detail regarding experiences the plaintiffs had with Ford’s vehicles or the types of injuries they suffered.
Ford argues a class action is too broad because it would include individuals who drove 2011-2018 Ford Explorers but suffered no injuries. The judge agreed and said common sense does not suggest that every single officer driving a 2011-2018 Ford Explorer has been injured by exhaust leakage.
And while the plaintiffs argue technical service bulletins issued by Ford proves there are exhaust and carbom monoxide problems, those TSBs were also “directed to specific operating conditions and potential manufacturing variances that may or may not be present in any specific vehicle.”
In addition, Ford points out how many police Explorers were altered by police departments which had to install lights, electrical gear and other devices used by police departments. This leaves open the possibility that even if an exhaust leak occurs, it may not have been caused by Ford.
The judge also had problems with the multiple alleged symptoms reported by the plaintiffs and other officers and how those symptoms related to various possible causes.
According to the judge, police officers have reported "utterly distinct types of injuries ranging from minor 'foggy headed[ness]' to 'heart attack like symptoms' to 'chronic carbon monoxide poisoning.'”
The judge also says it's conceivable some class members could have gotten in crashes due to the effects of carbon monoxide, but a class action lawsuit is out of the question because of the variety of alleged injuries.
"If the symptoms were minor, was exhaust clearly the cause? If the class members had heart symptoms, do they have an underlying heart condition? If the class member got in a crash, were they or someone else at fault?" - Judge Leighton
The Ford Explorer carbon monoxide lawsuit was filed in the Superior Court of Washington for Clark County and transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington at Tacoma - Cashatt, et al., v. Ford Motor Company.
The plaintiffs are represented by Josephine C. Townsend.
Read what Ford Explorer drivers tell CarComplaints.com about the exhaust systems: