Judge Peter Corrigan in Ohio has ordered Ford Motor Co. to face a new trial on claims the carmaker violated commercial truck dealers’ pricing contracts, according to James Lowe, a lawyer for the truck sellers. Lowe said that Corrigan has concluded that jurors were confused when they rejected claims of the dealers that Ford breached sales and service agreements by failing to publish prices for medium and heavy trucks.
“We are gratified to once again have the chance to show Ford took advantage of the dealers by manipulating agreements to divert their profits to the company,” Lowe said. Corrigan still has to set a new trial date for the case, which has already had two verdicts dismissed.
In the first trial in 2011, Corrigan awarded around $2 billion -- including about $1.2 billion in interest -- to a class of about 3,000 dealers. A state appeals court, however, dismissed the award, finding Corrigan improperly excluded evidence that could have helped Ford in the case. In the second trial, an Ohio jury rejected the truck sellers’ claims in September.
Ford spokesman Jay Cooney remarked that the carmaker was disappointed with the decision to grant a new trial and is planning to appeal it. “We are confident the appellate courts will reinstate the jury’s verdict, including that Ford did not break the sales and service agreement,” Cooney said.
The trucks dealers filed a case against Ford in 2002, claiming the carmaker violated an agreement to sell trucks at published prices, forcing them to pay more from 1987 to 1998. According to the dealers, the agreement required Ford to publish all discounts approved for any dealer. A failure to publish the discounts given to some dealers meant the others paid more, according to lawyers for dealers, like Westgate Ford Truck Sales Inc.