Under the proposal, Ford would provide vouchers worth up to $500 each toward the purchase of a new Explorer or $300 toward another Ford vehicle to owners of Explorers purchased in the 1990s.
During a trial that began in June in Sacramento's downtown courthouse, plaintiffs' lawyers argued that Ford had misled car buyers by falsely claiming the Explorers built in the 1990s were safe, all-purpose family vehicles.
"They were peddling it as a safe vehicle that you could run up and down the highway at 70 mph," said lead plaintiffs' attorney Tab Turner. "But this vehicle does not perform as a safe and stable soccer mom kind of vehicle."
Ford knew the Explorer's high, narrow build made it prone to rollover in emergency maneuvers at highway speeds, the lawyers claimed.
When the dangerous defects came to light after a nationwide recall of the Explorers' Firestone tires in August 2000, each Explorer lost about $1,000 in value, the plaintiffs' lawyers argued.
They sued under California's false-advertising and unfair-competition laws, asking a judge to order Ford to disgorge more than $2 billion in profits.
"People are stuck with these vehicles after the value has dropped and cannot use them safely," Turner said Wednesday.
Turner said he'd agreed to the settlement in part because Ford's current financial weakness made it unable to afford a large cash payout. .... "Ford's not in a position to write a check for $500 million."
The article also says that the preliminary approval hearing is today at 1:00 p.m. before Judge DeAlba. More coverage appeared in Friday's Daily Journal, which reported that "Consumer Advocates Object to Ford Explorer Settlement Offer" (subscription).