Ford Wins Appeal Against $1.2B Lawsuit Over Truck Fuel Economy Claims


Ford has defeated an appeal in a case that accused it of deceiving the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to inflate the MPG numbers of its pickup trucks. The court ruled the agency’s authority is greater than individual states’ in determining fuel economy.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled against a class of plaintiffs, who claimed the automaker had misled the EPA by intentionally miscalculating factors used in certifying MPG numbers. The case relates to 2018-2020 F-150s and 2019–2020 Rangers, as reported by Reuters.

The plaintiffs claimed this led the EPA to overestimate the fuel economy of the trucks by as much as 15%. They argued this induced them to overpay for their trucks and resulted in extra fuel costs.

However, the court found federal law gives the EPA authority to estimate vehicle fuel economy, which preempted the plaintiffs’ claims based on state law. Circuit Judge Richard Griffin added estimates do not need to be strictly accurate, and the agency has “significant authority” to investigate and combat fraud, upholding a 2022 ruling by Chief Judge Sean Cox in federal court, in Detroit.

“State-law tort claims, like plaintiffs’, would skew this balance and permit juries to take the EPA’s place in determining whether fuel economy estimates are reasonable,” wrote Griffin.

Ford said it was pleased with the results of this case, which followed an investigation from the Justice Department into its emissions and fuel economy certification process. The probe closed in 2021, and no legal action was taken against the automaker.

Meanwhile, the plaintiffs are unhappy with the result, which their lawyer, Steve Berman, described as a “horrible result for consumers.” He claimed the finding is “dead against Supreme Court precedent” that allows states to regulate deceptive conduct.

We thank CarScoops for reprint permission.

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