Lawsuit was dismissed multiple times, but Ninth Circuit says Ford truck roof lawsuit should continue

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Mikyley Reitz Ford Truck Roof Lawsuit Appeal Successful
Lawsuit was dismissed multiple times, but Ninth Circuit says Ford truck roof lawsuit should continue

— A Ford truck roof lawsuit will get another shot in court after it was dismissed multiple times by a federal judge.

According to the California Highway Patrol, local residents thought Mikyley Reitz was "driving very fast" based on the sound of the truck.

The June 2017 crash report says the 2001 Ford F-350 rear tires went off the road and rotated the truck counterclockwise before it came back onto the road and rolled over.

The Ford truck came to rest upside down in the road, killing 25-year-old Mikyley Reitz by blunt force trauma.

Her parents sued Ford by alleging the automaker wanted to save money and concealed the weak roof from the plaintiffs.

But the original Mikyley Reitz Ford roof lawsuit was filed in February 2023, nearly seven years after the crash.

The judge dismissed the lawsuit only to allow the plaintiffs to change and refile their lawsuit. The amended lawsuit was again dismissed, but the judge said the plaintiffs could again amend their suit, which was also dismissed by the judge.

The plaintiffs argue the two-year statute of limitations should not apply to them because they didn't know about the alleged roof defects until 2022 when a jury awarded $1.7 billion to the family of Ford truck occupants.

That case concerned the deaths of Melvin and Voncile Hill who were traveling in a 2002 Ford F-250 Super Duty truck in Georgia. The Ford truck crashed because a Pep Boys service center installed the wrong tire on the truck.

The tire blew out and caused the Ford F-250 to roll three times up a hill, killing the couple.

Though the 2002 Ford F-250 passed all federal safety standards when it was sold and the crash was very violent, in 2022 the jury awarded the Hill family $1.7 billion by finding the truck roof was too weak. The case also saw attorneys requesting $600 million in fees and expenses.

In the Mikyley Reitz lawsuit, the district court judge ruled in Ford’s favor by finding the “catastrophic roof collapse, as the photo of the damaged vehicle establishes,” was enough to start the statute of limitations in June 2017, not in 2022 when her parents learned of the $1.7 billion Hill verdict.

The district court also concluded that a “simple internet search” at the time of the accident may have provided the plaintiffs with information about other cases involving similar Ford truck rollover crashes.

The district court judge ruled waiting "until after they had become aware of news reports of a verdict in a similar case indicates that Plaintiffs did nothing following Decedent’s death to investigate a possible claim."

The plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit by arguing they would allege additional facts if given an opportunity to file their lawsuit once again.

The appeals court admits the claims are subject to a two-year statute of limitations and the plaintiffs filed suit nearly seven years after the event.

“Leave to amend should be granted generously, after considering ‘bad faith, undue delay, prejudice to the opposing party, futility of amendment, and whether the plaintiff has previously amended the complaint.' While Plaintiffs had previous opportunities to amend their complaint, we grant leave to amend. We vacate the judgment and remand.” — Ninth Circuit

A new Ford truck roof lawsuit will be filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

The Ford truck roof lawsuit is titled, Rick Landers, et al. for the Estate of Mikyley Reitzv v. Ford Motor Company.

The plaintiffs are represented by Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP.


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