In a shocking reversal, the Ohio Court of Appeals ordered a new trial for a class of commercial-truck dealers who claimed that they were overcharged for 11 years as the court scrapped a $2 billion award against Ford Motor Co. The automaker divulged this reversal of the largest judgment ever in its government filing. In a ruling submitted on May 3, the state appeals court in Cleveland determined that the trial judge improperly excluded evidence that Ford had presented.
The dealers can ask the Ohio Supreme Court to review the ruling. In 2002, the dealers filed a suit against Ford, claiming that the company violated a deal to sell trucks at published prices, which compelled them to pay more from 1987 through 1998.
This had affected their profits. Last June, Cuyahoga County Judge Peter J. Corrigan upheld a $4.5 million verdict given by a Cleveland jury to one Ohio dealer in February 2011. In addition, he said that Ford has to pay similar damages and interest to a class composed of about 3,000 other dealers. Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans said that the company is looking forward to a try this case in front of a jury that will allow all the evidence that was excluded in the first trial.
Bloomberg News reported that the $2 billion award was five times higher than the biggest-ever jury award against Ford – a $369 million verdict in 2004 in a products-defect case in California. However, this verdict was decreased later by trial and appellate courts. In Ford’s filings in the U.S., it had been naming the $2 billion award as a financial risk. In its latest filing, Ford said that the total consisted of $800 million in damages and $1.2 billion in pre-judgment interest. [source: Bloomberg]