Most car companies would consider building cars for police officers an honor and a privilege. Yet, Ford Motor Company is neglecting the safety of those who keep us safe. Police officers across the country are reporting carbon monoxide leaking into their Ford Explorer Interceptors, causing officers to become sick and even some to pass out behind the wheel and crash.
With more than 2,700 complaints of carbon monoxide exposure and 1.33 million SUVs being investigated in response to carbon monoxide reports, driver safety has not been Ford’s top priority. Despite being aware of these incidents and the ongoing risk, Ford has failed to recall any vehicles. Police departments across the country have pulled Ford Interceptors from service to protect officers while they await the results of an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
A Nationwide Issue
Carbon monoxide leaks have led to many crashes, as well as many claimed injuries including nausea, headaches, lightheadedness, or even neurologic injury. The Police Department in Austin, Texas recently pulled nearly 400 Ford Interceptors from its fleet. Six officers in Auburn, Massachusettes tested positive for exposure to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide and the department pulled 14 vehicles after a carbon monoxide related crash. One precaution, though not entirely reliable, is for police departments to install carbon monoxide detectors in their vehicles.
Holding Ford Responsible
This isn’t Ford’s first problem with carbon monoxide. Keyless ignitions have fundamentally changed the way consumers interact with their vehicles, by replacing the traditional key with a computerized key fob. Tragically, dozens of Americans have died from carbon monoxide poisoning after inadvertently leaving their keyless ignition cars running in attached garages. Auto manufacturers, including Ford, have known about the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning for many years, but have failed to take adequate steps to resolve the problem or warn the public.
Since I represent victims of personal injury and wrongful death, Lt. Cesare Fontanini of the Highland Park Fire Department contacted me regarding the tragic death of his parents, Rina and Pasquale Fontanini. Lt. Fontanini believes his parents died because of Ford’s defective design of their keyless ignition systems. His elderly parents purchased a Lincoln MKS with a keyless ignition and inadvertently left the car running in their attached garage, resulting in their death from carbon monoxide poisoning. As I investigated this incident, it became increasingly obvious people across the country were inadvertently leaving keyless ignition vehicles running, and car manufacturers knew about this problem for well over a decade. Equally obvious was this design defect caused consumers, especially the elderly, to unknowingly exit their vehicles with the key fob in their possession while the vehicle was still running. These systems are dangerous because they are too complicated and fail to warn the driver if the engine is still running. On behalf of the Fontanini family, I filed a products liability lawsuit against Ford Motor Company for their failure to address this dangerous defect.
Supplying vehicles to those who protect us is a privilege; and Ford has proven itself unworthy of this privilege. In light of the above, Chicago police officers should have their vehicles equipped with carbon monoxide detectors and promptly report any carbon monoxide issues. It’s always the right time to protect what matters most - your health and safety.
If you would like to schedule an initial consultation regarding this issue or any other personal injury matters, contact us by calling (312) 888-8700.