Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ford Continues to Fight Customers and Appeals Ruling

After the Nowata District Court found Ford Motor Company liable for damages sustained by Ford customers in the customers' dealings with the Ford dealership in Nowata, Ford Motor Company decided to continue to battle Ford’s own customers. After securing judgment against the Ford Motor Company at trial where the Court ruled that Ford Motor Company failed to exercise ordinary care in appointing Edward Taylor and Thomas Plummer as a Ford dealer, Ford has appealed the ruling to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

In February 2008, Ford Motor Company approved and authorized Thomas Plummer and Edward Taylor, under the entity, Ibex, LLC, d/b/a Nowata Ford as an authorized Ford dealer to operate a Ford dealership in Nowata, Oklahoma. With Ford’s active help, Plummer and Taylor obtained a license to sell automobiles with the State of Oklahoma on March 11, 2008. Plummer and Taylor were inexperienced and under-capitalized, resulting
in significant problems for at least 63 Ford customers during the months of March to July of 2008. 12 Ford customers filed suit in the Nowata County District Court, against Ford, Ibex, Plummer and Taylor, seeking title to their vehicles, actual damages and punitive damages. In December 2008, the Court granted partial summary adjudication to 9 of the Plaintiffs, ordering and directing the OTC to issue certificates of title to those Ford customers.

Jury was waived and the 7 remaining cases were tried to the Court. Plaintiffs claimed that Ford was negligent, appointing under-capitalized and inexperienced men to operate a dealership, leading directly to the foreseeable damages suffered by the Plaintiffs; and such was so reckless as to justify the award of punitive damages. Plaintiffs also claimed Ford should be held vicariously liable for the damages caused by the Ford dealership, which was operating as the “Face of Ford”. The Court found in favor of the Plaintiffs, Tammy and Timothy Thornton, Carolyn and Jerry McIntosh, Betsey Gorley, Jimmy Denman, and Kimberly Teague; awarding $100,000 in punitive damages against Ibex and Plummer; awarding Plaintiffs a portion of their actual damages, attorney fees and costs against Ford; the Court declined to award punitive damages against Ford. After motion, which included evidence of what Ford paid its own attorneys, the Court adjusted Plaintiffs’ reasonable attorney fees.