Court of Appeal Affirms Consumer’s Victory Against A Car Manufacturer For Fraud And California Lemon Law Violations

Ford advertised its Super Duty F-250 truck as the heavyweight champion of its class, with unprecedented hauling and towing capacities.  Plaintiff saw those ads, and decided to buy one because he was planning to tow heavy loads into the mountains for extended camping trips.  But he was never able to tow anything without putting his life on the line.

At trial, he testified about multiple terrifying situations, including the time the truck lost power as he was approaching a busy intersection:  “‘All of a sudden everything in my dashboard went off, all of the lights, the radio went off, my tachometer went down to zero.  I had nothing to my dashboard but I knew the truck was still running because I can hear it . . . .’”  The jury also heard evidence that Ford knew all along that the F-250 was defective, but decided not to share that information with potential buyers.  Instead, Ford insiders instructed others within the company to “‘delete these emails.’”  The jury found that Ford had committed fraud in the inducement and violated the Consumers Legal Remedies and Song-Beverly Acts.  It awarded plaintiffs the full purchase price of the truck, implicitly finding that the truck’s fair market value at the time of sale was $0, based on objective evidence that it was a lemon.  The jury also awarded plaintiffs a $50,000 civil penalty, $150,000 in punitive damages, and attorney fees.

GMSR won an affirmance for the plaintiffs on appeal.  Rejecting Ford’s arguments, and adopting GMSR’s, the Court of Appeal held that there was substantial evidence that the truck was objectively worth $0 at the time of purchase, and that the civil penalty and punitive damages were not an impermissible double recovery because they were awarded to remedy two different types of wrongful conduct that occurred at different times.

As reported in Bloomberg Law:

The Court of Appeal’s opinion is accessible here:  (Anderson v. Ford Motor Company (2022) 74 Cal.App.5th 946 [Third District], certified for partial publication.)