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Breaking News

Judge Orders Ford to Recall Almost 2 Million Cars in California

Aired October 11, 2000 - 2:12 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to take a closer look now at a ruling by an Alameda County Superior Court judge just a few minutes ago. The judge ordered a massive recall of almost 2 million Ford vehicles in California to replace an ignition system which could cause those vehicles to stall in traffic.

CNN legal expert Roger Cossack joins us from Washington.

I don't believe ever hearing of an instance when a state judge ordered a vehicle recall, Roger.

ROGER COSSACK, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Lou, you know, being from California, I can only tell you that our judges take this stuff very seriously, as well they should.

This is a ruling that is really only applicable to, arguably, only California, and perhaps even, arguably, only to within that judge's jurisdiction. This is a class-action that was filed in a California court regarding this alleged failure of an ignition system within these Ford automobiles, that when they -- that they were placed in a way, the allegations are, that they began to heat up, and when they would heat up, the car would stall.

Apparently, the claims are that Ford knew about this. The judge seems to be convinced. He believes that these are a danger not only to the people but -- who drive them -- but perhaps to others and he has ordered Ford to recall these cars. And I think there's about 15 years worth of cars that he's interested in.

WATERS: And we have similar suits pending in Alabama, Maryland, Illinois, Tennessee and Washington. Will that be affected -- will those suits be affected in any way by the ruling in California?

COSSACK: Well, no. The California judge, as I said, is only going to be, arguably -- clearly, only to the state of California and, arguably, perhaps even just to the judge's jurisdiction. But once a judge does this, other judges and other states see what happened and they would have their own jurisdiction within their own states to make their own sort of hearings and their own sort of decisions.

So, you know, while it's not -- while a California judge doesn't really have any impact on, say, another state, an Alabama judge, for example, you know that Alabama judge, or wherever the other states are, look and see what the California judge has done, and sometimes they get in line and follow right along.

WATERS: Why do we have to go through this civil process? Isn't there a government agency that takes care of recalling vehicles? And why hasn't the complaint been taken there?

COSSACK: Well, perhaps there has not been the complaint to the civil agency that would overlook this, the governmental agency that would overlook this, or perhaps the governmental agency just doesn't feel that they have been shown evidence that would cause them to act in this way. What we do know for a fact, Lou, is simply this: that a California judge, upon reviewing the evidence, feels that these cars are a danger and says to Ford, you know, I want them recalled.

WATERS: All right, there you have it. Roger Cossack from Washington, thanks.

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