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Ford Motor Co. and Magna International have been targeted in a $395 million class action lawsuit over door latches that have allegedly caused deaths and serious injuries. The claim, launched in Canada’s Ontario Superior Court, says Ford and its subcontractors have known about faulty door latches on four Ford models since 1995. The claim is seeking payment to replace latches on about 4 million light trucks and SUVs in the United States and 300,000 to 400,000 more in Canada at a cost of about $975 for a four-door vehicle. “If you just do the numbers, it’s a very expensive recall,” said Paul Miller with Toronto-based law firm Will Barristers. “So, as alleged in the claim, they put profits ahead of people because it was cheaper to fight the lawsuits than issue the recall,” Miller said. Miller’s firm would represent Canadian Ford owners, while Motley Rice LLC in South Carolina would represent the Americans. Vehicles with the alleged defect, from the 1997 model year to 2000, are the Ford F-150, Ford F-250 Super Light Duty, Ford Expedition, Lincoln Navigator and Blackwood. On impact, the doors on the side of the vehicle that was not hit have been reported to spring open during accidents. Aside from Ford and Magna, Ford subcontractors Magna Donnelly Corp., Donnelly Corp., Dortec Industries, Intier Automotive Inc. and Atoma Latching Systems Group are also named in the suit. Internal Ford documents that Miller and the Motley Rice lawyers will use in their arguments came to light in May when a Texas law firm sued Ford over the deaths of two sisters after a rollover accident in their Ford, Miller said. Ford settled with the families for an undisclosed amount. Ford has said its door latches passed a 1967 crash test — an alternative test to a more popular test required by U.S. authorities — and therefore is not required to recall the vehicles. A Ford spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment. Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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