By Jim Taylor, Editor MACS ACtion Magazine
On Jul 14th, we discussed a lawsuit filed by Kevin O’Shea against Ford Motor Co, alleging that the company offered vehicles that “used an excessive amount of Nocolok flux in the design, manufacture and assembly of the air conditioner system evaporator cores, thereby creating an unreasonable health and safety risk …” According to the complaint, “exposure to and inhalation of the flux is extremely dangerous and can result in the development of several diseases and conditions.
Mr. O’Shea’s attorneys filed for the case to become a class action that could encompass approximately 3.5 million vehicles from 2000 through 2010 and cover almost every model line Ford sells in the U.S.
The suit states that as early as 2001 Ford was aware of a condition in which white flakes would be blown from dash vents after a short period of A/C use. Several TSBs were issued on the matter acknowledging “excessive amounts of brazing flux used in manufacturing” to be the source of the flakes.
Details of Ford’s quick and strong defense have emerged from the more than 120 official documents filed in the case. To begin with, they found that Mr. O’Shea took his ’09 Escape Hybrid to the selling dealer when the flakes first appeared on the dash. Ford performed a repair under warranty. However, when the flakes reappeared later, the owner did not notify the dealership or return the vehicle for repair.
In court documents Ford stated that they had been well aware of the problem and working towards its resolution for some time, including both manufacturing changes and field repairs via TSBs. The company further stated that the incidence of warranty repair for the flaking problem amounted to less than 0.1 percent of all vehicles possibly included in the class action.
Ford presented additional documents and tests from the flux manufacturer Solvay, showing that the product is classified as non-hazardous material according to both EPA and DOT standards. Additionally, during the detailed investigation, engineers identified other sources with the ventilation system that could generate a whitish dust or powder from the vents.
The defense stated that the “plaintiff does not allege and cannot prove that the white flakes in his vehicle consisted of flux from the evaporator core rather than other material.” Additionally, they say, “the amount of flux to which the plaintiff was exposed, if any, was negligible and trivial.”
The judge, Hon. Jacqueline H. Nguyen, has not issued a final ruling but at the end of July gave both sides a notice of a proposed ruling which would dismiss the bid for a class action.
When having your mobile A/C system professionally serviced, insist on proper repair procedures and quality replacement parts. Insist on recovery and recycling so that refrigerant can be reused and not released into the atmosphere.
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The 32nd annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Convention and Trade Show will take place January 18-20, 2012 at the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV.