Ford Sued for Defective Switch Causing Miss. House Fire

June 7, 2005

A lawsuit filed in Federal Court in Oxford, Mississippi, by attorneys Smith, Phillips, Mitchell & Scott, charges Ford Motor Company with responsibility for a fire that destroyed the home of Olive Branch, Mississippi residents Gary and Teresa McRoberts, according to
attorney Robert Morris of the Batesville, Mississippi law firm.

The suit, filed on May 24 in the United States District Court, claims the October 2004 fire that destroyed the Desoto County home was caused by a defective cruise control switch in the couple’s 2000 Ford Expedition. The lawsuit charges that Ford Motor Company has known for years that the switch can start fires even when the vehicles are not running.

When Gary McRoberts opened his garage door the night of Oct. 23, 2004, he reportedly found fire had already engulfed the garage and spread to the interior of the home. The McRoberts, who were able to escape the burning structure, were reportedly shocked to learn that their 2000 Ford Expedition SUV, which had not been driven for hours, was the source of the fire.

In January of this year, after reports of numerous similar fires, Ford
reportedly recalled more than 700,000 Expeditions and Lincoln Navigator sport-utility vehicles and F-150 pickups containing the cruise control deactivation switch.

In March, after receiving reports of more than 200 such fires, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an even wider investigation of 1995 through 2002 vehicles with the switch.

The McRoberts’ suit charges Ford with failing to disclose the danger to the public, failing to promptly issue a recall, and concealing the defect to keep its fast selling models on the market.

The case is Gary W. McRoberts and Teresa McRoberts v. Ford Motor Company, case number 2:05cv00099-GHD-EMB, United States District Court, Northern District, Mississippi.

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