United States District Judge Ronald B. Leighton has dismissed the lawsuit detailed on this page with prejudice, granting Ford’s motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the plaintiffs failed to establish that Ford knew of yet failed to disclose any material defect.
In its attempt to escape the lawsuit, Ford argued that there was no “defect” with the panoramic sunroof in the plaintiffs’ 2013 Escape in that the tempered glass broke exactly the way it’s supposed to according to federal vehicle safety regulations—into small, round pieces and not into shards. Further, Ford noted that the 2013 Escape was among the first of the automaker’s vehicle models to include a panoramic sunroof and that the car itself was bought by the plaintiffs in September 2012 “at the very beginning of production.” That being the case, Ford stressed, it could not possibly have known of, much less concealed, the alleged defect from consumers at the time the plaintiffs bought their vehicle.
Further, Ford provided that the alleged defect could not have been material to a buyer or lessee given “its extremely low (0.05%) occurrence rate.” The automaker argued to the court that a panoramic sunroof failure rate of below one percent is not material as far as the law is concerned.
In an order dismissing the case issued February 11, the Washington judge ruled that the plaintiffs failed to meet their burden of providing sufficient and proper evidence that could prove Ford knew of the alleged panoramic sunroof defect when the vehicle was purchased. Further, Judge Leighton found that the alleged defect – “if it was a defect at all” – is not material, particularly when considering actual failure rates, whether the risk of shattering is unreasonable, and other evidence presented by Ford.
Lastly, though the plaintiffs claimed they were denied the benefit of their bargain and entitled to monetary damages, the court found that it “need not delve” into these claims given the consumers failed to establish Ford concealed a material problem.
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