SFMS Announces Decision Granting Class Certification In Class Action Pending Against Ford Motor Company

October 15th, 2007

SFMS is pleased to announce that, on October 4, 2007, Plaintiff’s Motion for Class Certification was granted in the action captioned, Christopher Annelli v. Ford Motor Company (No. 4001345). The opinion granting the Motion for Class Certification was authored by the Honorable Robert C. Leuba of the Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District. The certified class consists of all consumers (as defined in C.G.S. §§ 42-227 (a)(1)) residing in Connecticut who own or lease 1992-2003 model year Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis, or Lincoln Town Car automobiles (“Vehicles”) registered in Connecticut. Excluded from the class are Defendant, its subsidiaries and affiliates, and any officers and directors thereof, as well as any judge presiding over the action, the judge’s spouse and immediate family.

The Court found that numerosity of the class was self-evident given the widespread sale of the Panther vehicles at issue in the litigation. The Court further concluded that Plaintiff met the commonality requirement for class certification. The Court held that common questions included, inter alia, whether a technical service bulletin (“TSB”) Ford issued with respect to the Vehicles constitutes an adjustment program within the meaning of and pursuant to the Secret Warranty Act; whether Ford’s upgrade program offered to certain of the Vehicles used for law enforcement and other purposes constitutes an adjustment program within the meaning of and pursuant to the Secret Warranty Act; whether the Plaintiff and the class are entitled to the benefits provided under the TSB and the upgrade program; whether Ford failed to notify consumers about their eligibility for the adjustment programs at issue and/or failed to reimburse consumers who incurred the costs of the repairs covered under the programs; whether the Plaintiff and the class had a right to such notification and/or reimbursement; whether Ford violated the Secret Warranty Act and consequently CUTPA; if it is found that Ford violated the Secret Warranty Act, whether the Plaintiff and the class suffered an ascertainable loss so as to permit recovery under CUTPA; and the damages suffered by the class.

The Court expressly rejected Ford’s argument that the commonality requirement had not been met. The Court agreed with Plaintiff that Plaintiff’s burden with respect to ascertainable loss is to establish that the information wrongfully withheld from him and other members of the proposed class had value, a showing of what the Plaintiff or any other member of the class would have done with that information is not required.

With respect to the typicality requirement, the Court found that Plaintiff and the proposed class’ allegations arise from the same factual contention–that Ford failed to notify consumers about the repair programs and/or failed to reimburse them for costs under the programs. The Court held, “[t]he Plaintiff’s claims are more than just typical of the claims of other proposed class members–they are identical.”

The Court held that Plaintiff and his counsel met the adequacy requirement. The Court noted that based upon the SFMS’s experience with complex and class action litigation, SFMS’ attorneys are experienced and well qualified to represent Plaintiff and the Class.

The Court found that the predominance requirement was also satisfied. Specifically, the Court held that the issue of whether the TSB and upgrade program are adjustment programs and whether the Plaintiff and class are entitled to the repairs under the adjustment program can be resolved with generalized proof as opposed to individual proof. The Court also held that the ascertainable loss element of the CUTPA claim may be proven using generalized proof. Lastly, the Court held that the class action mechanism is superior to other methods for the fair and efficient adjudication of this matter.

Plaintiff, Christopher Annelli, was appointed as a representative Plaintiff to represent the interests of the class. Plaintiff’s counsel, Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah, LLC, was appointed Lead Counsel to represent Plaintiff and the class.

Plaintiff is in the process of preparing a proposed notice to the class and a proposed form of class notice, which will be submitted to the Court for review and approval.

SFMS congratulates attorneys James E. Miller and Patrick A. Klingman, for their outstanding work on this case.