Ohio court awards $2 billion to Ford truck dealers

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 10, 2011 8:33 PM
Ohio court awards $2 billion to Ford truck dealers

DETROIT (Reuters) - An Ohio state court awarded $2 billion in damages to commercial truck dealers who sued Ford Motor Co, saying that a program that offered unpublished discounts effectively overcharged some dealers.

The Court of Common Pleas for Cuyahoga County, Ohio, issued its decision on Friday on the suit, initially filed in 2002, according to Ford and the plaintiffs.

"This was hotly contested but the law and the facts are what they are," said James Lowe, an attorney with the Cleveland, Ohio law firm Lowe, Eklund, Wakefield and Mulvihill, which brought the initial suit on behalf of Westgate Ford Truck Sales of Ohio. The suit was certified as a class action.

Ford, the No. 2 U.S. automaker, said it would appeal the decision, which was certified as a class action on behalf of more than 3,100 dealers nationwide.

"We believe that the trial court committed significant legal errors," said Ford spokesman John Stoll. "We continue to believe that the CPA program caused no harm to our dealers. Rather, it brought significant benefit to the dealers."

The CPA program offered discounts on medium to heavy-duty trucks -- used in snow plows, dump trucks and other heavy vehicles -- to dealers who asked for them depending on their profitability, Lowe said. The program violated the law by offering merchandise at unpublished prices, Lowe said.

(Reporting by Scott Malone, editing by Bernard Orr)