Ford wins CVPI Class Action Lawsuit in Illinois
DEARBORN, Mich., Oct. 15, 2004 ? An Illinois jury today returned a
verdict that the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor is a safe, reliable
police car, following findings by the National Highway Transportation
Safety Administration (NHTSA) that the car exceeds federal standards
for fuel system safety. "No design can eliminate all risk in 70 mph or
80 mph collisions into parked police vehicles," said Ford attorney
Doug Lampe. "The plaintiffs' attorneys were asking for a vehicle
that's never been designed by a car company anywhere in the world ? a
car that is guaranteed to eliminate all risk of fuel leakage in such
high-speed collisions. Instead, the jury used its common sense and
found that the Police Interceptor has a proven record of safe,
dependable service in high-risk police work. "Ford is committed to
making a safe car even safer, but courtroom engineering is not the
answer." Lampe said. "To improve police officer safety in traffic
stops requires a focus on the root of the problem: drunk driving."
There have been no accidents or injuries in the state of Illinois.
This case was a class-action trial based on the value of after-market
equipment sought by plaintiffs and did not have anything to do with
personal injury. This case was about plaintiffs' lawyers representing
Illinois officers that have had no accidents, asking for compensation
for equipment that was not ordered, not paid for, and that does not
add to the safety of the vehicle. Neither the bladder nor the fire
suppression powder panel is a proven technology. To improve police
officer safety in traffic stops requires a focus on the root of the
problem: drunk driving. "The same plaintiffs' lawyers who brought this
lawsuit also petitioned NHTSA to open an investigation into the Police
Interceptor," Lampe pointed out. "NHTSA closed its investigation
without ordering a recall. Having failed to convince the proper
regulatory authorities, the plaintiffs' lawyers sought to have a
court-sponsored vehicle designed by the lawyers, with the lawyers
earning a percentage fee. But they failed in that effort, as well. "If
this issue comes to trial in other states, we believe there will be
similar verdicts because the Police Interceptor remains the vehicle of
choice by the people who drive them: law enforcement officers," Lampe
said. "In Illinois and in the handful of other states where litigation
is pending against Ford, the same departments included in class-action
lawsuits continued to purchase more Police Interceptors even after the
lawsuits are filed. Police themselves apparently don't agree with the
allegations made by the plaintiffs' attorneys." Lampe noted that Ford
has maintained its 85% market share in the police pursuit market for
the last decade, despite the continued criticism of the plaintiffs'
bar. In the accidents cited by the plaintiffs' lawyers, the officers'
stationary vehicles were struck by intoxicated drivers going at
extremely high rates of speed ? 70, 80 and even 100 miles per hour.
The Police Interceptor is designed to be extremely durable and safe.
It exceeds existing safety regulations. Further, it even exceeds the
next-generation of fuel system standards, which are projected to be
first applicable to the 2006 model year. The Police Interceptor has
earned the government's 5-Star crash rating, the highest vehicle
crashworthiness rating possible. It provides body-on-frame
construction, rear-wheel drive and a live-rear axle ? features highly
valued in police work. State and federal accident data show that the
rate of fires following high-speed rear collisions involving the
Police Interceptor is comparable to other make and model vehicles,
including those with the same or alternative fuel tank locations,
despite its high-risk usage as a police vehicle.