Not long ago, this blog discussed a class action lawsuit filed against Ford Motor Company by owners of Ford vehicles purchased between 2002 and 2010. It was the second class action suit against the company over the issue of sudden acceleration problems. In both lawsuits, those who filed the lawsuit argue that their Ford vehicles lacked an adequate override system to protect drivers in situations of sudden, unintended acceleration. While not every injured party experienced a collision due to this problem, each one argued that had they been informed of the problem, they never would have purchased the vehicle. Both class action lawsuits were filed in federal court in the Southern District of West Virginia.
Now Ford Motor Company has filed a motion to dismiss the first class action lawsuit. The company argues that an “objectionable” paragraph of the complaint should be stricken. The paragraph contends that in the 1980s, Ford Motor Company intentionally got rid of internal reports about sudden acceleration situations, as well as concealed the sudden acceleration problems from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Ford Motor Company argues that such claims have already been refuted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as well as an appellate court in Florida.
Ford Motor Company claims that the allegations injure the company’s reputation and the continued presence of such allegations would prejudice Ford Motor Company in court. Otherwise, Ford Motor Company objected to the lawsuit’s aims, which were — in the company’s words — for a court-ordered recall and monetary damages for nearly every Ford vehicle sold in the United States between 2002 and 2010.
Both West Virginia personal injury attorneys and attorneys from other states are highly familiar with motions to dismiss in lawsuits. Whenever one party files a case, the other party will almost always file a motion to dismiss to prevent the case from advancing. In federal court, the motion to dismiss is usually known as a “12(b)(6) motion,” named after Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Under Rule 12(b)(6), “a party may assert the following defenses by motion: failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” By filing this defense, the defending party is arguing that the injury stated is not one that violates the law, and so no legal remedy is available. In some cases, the injured party may be allowed to go back and amend the complaint. If even an amended complaint does not meet the threshold of a legal violation, the court may grant the dismissal with prejudice, which means that the injured party cannot file a new complaint in the case.
The Rule 12(b)(6) motion is not the only type of motion to dismiss. A party can also file a motion to dismiss for failure to file in the appropriate venue, or failure to properly serve the party with the complaint, among other things. However, the 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss may be the most common. Motions to dismiss are always filed near the beginning of the case. If it fails and the case continues, a party’s next opportunity to dismiss the case comes with filing a motion for summary judgment.