The First District Court of Appeal, a state appeals court in San Francisco, revitalized a lawsuit against a Canadian subsidiary of Ford Motors last week. The lawsuit, brought on behalf of several thousand Californians, accuses the Canadian subsidiary of conspiring with other automakers in the early 2000s in an effort to prevent the export of new lower-priced cars from Canada to the United States. Upon reviewing evidence of a secretive May 2001 meeting in Canada between representatives of auto dealers and manufacturers, the court found that a jury could conclude that the dealers and manufacturers were conspiring to prevent exports from Canada to the U.S. in an attempt to maintain high prices in the U.S. If true, this would violate state antitrust and unfair competition laws, including California’s Cartwright Act and Unfair Competition Law (UCL).
Legal Rights of Those Affected
If the court finds that Ford Canada conspired to keep U.S. prices high by preventing exports from Canada to the United States, the automaker might have to pay millions of dollars in damages to consumers in California who purchased new Ford vehicles between the beginning of 2001 and the filing of the suit in April 2003. Those damages reflect the difference between what consumers actually paid for their new vehicles and what they would have paid had Ford Canada not conspired to keep prices high in the U.S. According to counsel for the plaintiffs, Ford’s alleged price manipulation resulted in consumers paying ten to thirty percent more for their new vehicles than they otherwise would have paid.
If you or someone you know has information of a product manufacturer illegally manipulating the market in order to turn a profit, please contact our office. Such practices do real harm, both to the proper functioning of product markets and to the lives of consumers.