A major American automobile manufacturer has paid $17.35 million, the top penalty possible, to settle government allegations that the company acted too slowly in recalling almost a half-million SUVs last year. Ford recalled nearly 485,000 Escape SUVs built between 2001 and 2004 in July 2012. The SUVs are equipped with 3-Liter V-6 engines and were recalled due to gas pedals sticking that could cause serious injury or even deadly crashes. The fine, which was announced last week, is the maximum fine that safety regulators can impose against an automaker.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Ford knew about the sticking gas pedal problem in May 2011, but refused to take action until July 2012, when the agency began to investigate the problem in the Escape SUVs. The investigation began after a teenage girl died in Arizona in an Escape crash in January 2012. According to a June 28 settlement agreement, NHTSA felt that Ford had violated the law by delaying the recalls, although Ford denied any wrongdoing. Joan Claybrook, NHTSA administrator under President Carter and a leading auto safety advocate, says that recall delays are a huge problem. If an automaker is able to delay a recall, fewer vehicles will likely be affected. Claybrook went on to state that “In the past, a lot of companies have delayed, delayed, delayed . . . [but] when it becomes a big public issue, they will act immediately.” Eventually Ford turned over information it had regarding the Escape SUV, and NHTSA found evidence showing that Ford knew about the sticking gas pedal issue more than a year earlier.
At the time of the recall, NHTSA had received sixty-eight complaints about the problem with the Escape SUV, including thirteen crashes, nine injuries, and the death of the Arizona girl. Ford agreed in June to pay the fine to avoid a drawn out dispute with the NHTSA. Older Escape SUVs were designed in a way that allowed cruise control cables to snag on the plastic cover atop the engine and in turn cause the gas pedal to stick. The problem occurs when the gas pedal is pushed to or near the floor and the cruise control cables are bent or somehow moved from their original position, which can occur when the SUVs are serviced, according to Ford. After the 2012 model year, the Ford Escape was redesigned. Toyota also recently paid the highest fine allowable in another delayed recall case.
Ford pays top fine to settle gov’t recall spat, www.palmbeachpost.com August 1, 2013
Consumer safety is a number one priority for the Coral Gables automobile accident attorneys at the Friedland Law Group. Drivers must have access to safety information about the vehicles that they choose to purchase and must be able to feel safe in the vehicle as they operate it about the roadways. All too often, defects in automobiles that create safety issues are not found until it is too late. The Broward consumer advocates have dedicated over twenty years to helping their clients recover compensation for injuries suffered as a result of a malfunctioning part in an automobile. If you or a loved one has been injured in an unsafe vehicle or any other type of motor vehicle accident, call a Miami Beach personal injury attorney today at (305) 661-2008 today for your free consultation. Don’t hesitate, call today!
The Miami product liability lawyers at the Friedland Law Group handle all types of motor vehicle accidents throughout the state of Florida, including Boca Raton, Homestead, North Miami, South Miami, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Pembroke Pines, Hialeah, Kendall, Aventura, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach. The Friedland Law Group handles all types of personal injury cases, including wrongful death, defective products, medical malpractice, slip and falls and construction site injuries.