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Florida Judge Grants Class Certification to Certain Ford Explorer Owners

Last week, Florida federal judge William P. Dimitrouleas agreed to certify a class of drivers who allege that a defective exhaust system present in Ford Motor Company vehicles exposes passengers to toxic levels of carbon monoxide gas.

The suit was filed in June, led by plaintiff Angela Sanchez-Knutson, who alleges that she and her daughter suffered chronic headaches as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning from her 2013 model Ford Explorer. She brought her vehicle in to her dealership for repairs several times, citing a sulphur smell that she was never informed signified a gas leak. Carbon monoxide fumes were able to travel into the cabin of her vehicle when the air conditioning system was in use.

Sanchez-Knutson presented sufficient evidence to meet the commonality, numerosity, adequacy, and typicality requirements, but was unsuccessful in applying a straight arithmetic damages model in support of the required predominancy requirement. However, an alternative damages model was used to successfully get the class certification approved. The next stage is to prove the case on merits in order to acquire a Rule 23(b)(2) certification, which would allow for final injunctive relief and possible monetary damages for those included in the class.

The class certification includes all people who purchased or leased a 2011-2015 Ford Explorer from authorized Florida Ford dealerships.

Ms. Sanchez-Knutson is represented by John J. Uustal, Michael A. Hersch, and Jordan M. Lewis of Kelley/Uustal. The case, Sanchez-Knutson v. Ford Motor Co. (0:14-cv-61344), is being heard at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

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