CASE RESULTS DEPEND UPON A VARIETY OF FACTORS UNIQUE TO EACH CASE. CASE RESULTS DO NOT GUARANTEE OR PREDICT A SIMILAR RESULT IN ANY FUTURE CASE.
In a California trial involving allegations that a 2014 Ford Focus was a lemon and that Ford Motor Company concealed material facts from plaintiffs, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Carolyn Greene entered an Order on September 24, 2020 awarding Ford $97,186.27 in costs from plaintiffs. Much of the costs awarded were expert and travel costs. The Court ruled that Ford was entitled to recover its outside expert fees because plaintiffs had declined a CCP 998 Offer from Ford. The case is titled Leonila V. Ambriz and Erick Ambriz v. Ford Motor Company, Riverside County Superior Court Case No. RIC1612390. A defense verdict had been rendered on March 11, 2020 after 10 days of trial and 1 hour and 15 minutes of deliberations.
The case involved the Ambriz’ factual contention that the car qualified for restitution under California’s Song Beverly Act because of an occasional shudder when accelerating from a stop. During deposition, plaintiffs characterized the magnitude of the shudder as “not much.” They also testified that while the shudder lasted more than one second, they did not know if it lasted more than two seconds. Despite this deposition testimony, plaintiffs’ expert Anthony Micale claimed the vibration was longer lasting and unsafe. He based his opinion on data retrieved from the car. On cross-examination, Mr. Micale admitted that he was unaware of plaintiffs’ precise deposition testimony regarding the magnitude or duration of the vibration they felt.
In its defense, Ford presented objective evidence in the form of exemplar vehicle testing which showed that plaintiffs’ occasional oscillation concern had a magnitude equivalent to driving over rumble strips, was of extremely short duration, and that it did not affect the ability of plaintiffs to use their vehicle safely. Ford also presented evidence that plaintiffs did not present their vehicle an unreasonable number of repair attempts taking into account the circumstances of each visit, the reasonableness of the dealership efforts, and Ford’s continuous improvement of the vehicle.
On the lemon law claim, the jury voted 9-3 that Ford Motor Company did not fail to repair the subject 2014 Focus vehicle to match the written warranty after a reasonable number of repair attempts. With regard to the concealment claim, the jury voted 12-0 that Ford Motor Company did not fail to disclose material facts about the vehicle that plaintiffs did not know or could not reasonably have discovered.
Plaintiff was represented by Raymond Boucher of Boucher LLP, Roger Kirnos of Knight Law Group and Christopher Urner of the Altman Law Group.
Ford Motor Company was represented by Brian Takahashi, Marion V. Mauch and Colin P. Cronin of Bowman and Brooke LLP and Shane H. McKenzie of Horvitz and Levy.