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Explorer owners seek $2B from Ford
The seven-year legal battle between Ford Motor Co. and owners of Ford Explorer SUVs takes a new turn next week when Ford defends a class action over the Explorer's safety that seeks about $2 billion in penalties.

The California case involves 414,000 customers who owned or leased Explorers between 1990 and 2000. They accuse the automaker of hiding safety concerns while marketing the Explorer, and contend their vehicles' resale values deflated following the Firestone tire debacle that was linked to 271 traffic deaths.No U.S. automaker has ever been forced to pay such damages, and even if the Explorer customers win, the verdict would likely be tied up in appeals. But with 14 similar class actions pending in other states, Ford's legal bills from the Firestone recall will continue for years to come.

The automaker and Bridgestone-Firestone successfully stopped a nationwide class action by Explorer customers in 2002, but Bridgestone-Firestone has settled all other claims since then. Ford and the attorneys in the California case also have held settlement talks ahead of the trial, set to begin Monday in Sacramento.

Tab Turner, the attorney who has pursued Ford and Firestone for several years in rollover lawsuits and will present the customers' case next week, said that, if successful, the customers could seek the more than $2 billion in profits they estimate Ford earned from sales of the Explorer in California. More at Detroit Free Press
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