Last week Ford Motor Company (Ford) drivers, Jacob and Jessica Beaty, asked the Washington Federal Court to provide them with certain documents the automaker claims contains confidential information in the Beaty v. Ford exploding sunroof lawsuit. Ford doesn’t want certain documents and testimony made public because it claims it contains proprietary information. The Washington Federal Judge has yet to enter a response.
Jacob and Jessica Beaty filed a lawsuit against Ford, and its two divisions, Lincoln Motor Company and Mercury (collectively Ford), in March 2017, where they alleged Ford was aware of its defective sunroofs as far back as the late 2000’s.
The Beaty’s, who purchased a new 2013 Ford Escape with the “power panoramic vista roof” in September 2012, according to court documents, based their decision to buy the SUV on its safety features and panoramic sunroof. In February 2017 Jessica Beaty was driving home with their daughter in the backseat when the sunroof “spontaneously shattered,” which caused scratches on both of their hands and faces, according to court documents.
“Ford has failed to meet these engineering challenges, as is evidenced by its own panoramic sunroofs’ propensity to spontaneously shatter (referred to herein as the defect). Unlike several manufacturers that have issued safety recalls, Ford has not recalled its defective panoramic sunroofs,” a portion of the complaint reads.
The Beaty’s, along with several other Ford vehicle owners, stated hazardous conditions while operating the company’s vehicles due to the alleged design defect. According to court documents, the shattering was so powerful startled drivers compared it to the sound of a gunshot.
“… Glass fragments would often rain down upon the occupants of the vehicle, sometimes while driving at highway speeds,” the Beaty’s stated in court documents.
After the lawsuit was filed Ford argued that its disclaimers and other language found in its warranty shielded it from having liability on the Beaty’s broken sunroof. The Beaty’s rejected Ford’s “warranty language” in their filed response.
“Ford’s suggestion that it satisfied any duty through warranty language stating its vehicles may ‘chip, scratch, crack, or break’ wholly misses the mark,” a portion of the Beaty’s filed response reads.
The automotive manufacturer responded by arguing and alleging the Beaty’s “greatly exaggerate[d] how often Ford’s panoramic sunroof glass breaks under what they describe as normal conditions.” Ford also argued against the Beatys’ claim that it had a “duty to disclose the alleged defect,” insisting the couple bought one of the first Escape SUVs with the panoramic sunroof, and therefore the company didn’t have any information regarding any glass breaking, according to court documents. Court documents also show Ford claiming the Beaty’s sunroof didn’t spontaneously break because it was hit by a rock.
The Beaty’s continue to make allegations that state Ford was aware of the aforementioned defect while the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was investigating the company in 2012.
“By concealing its knowledge of the defect from NHTSA regulators and the public at large, Ford is able to sell vehicles with luxury upgrade at prices normally charged for non-defective vehicles. Ford thus profited, and continues to profit, at the expense of plaintiffs and other customers, who received defective vehicles worth less than the non-defective vehicles for which they had bargained,” a portion of court documents reads.
The two year legal battle between the Beaty’s and Ford shows no sign of slowing down, as both parties are currently fighting over whether or not certain testimony and documents will be made public. The Federal Judge has yet to enter a response.
Look to future editions for more information on this lawsuit.