Friday, November 21, 2014

Ford: Unintended Acceleration Lawsuit (2013)

Ford Motor Company logo

The Ford Motor Company was founded by Henry Ford in 1903. It produces automobiles and is located in Dearborn Michigan. As of May 2014 the Ford Motor Company is worth $64.51 billion ( In the last couple years there has been a problem with some of the models Ford produces. This problem has led to a class action lawsuit against Ford. The lawsuit was filed on March 28th, 2013. This lawsuit was filed in Huntington West Virginia’s district court. The lawsuit has plaintiffs from 14 different states. From it says “the lawsuit claims that Ford’s electronic throttle system can take control of the accelerator and leave drivers unable to stop the vehicle.” Ford has been adding a brake override system to its models since 2010, but the company has not added a brake override system to models that are older than that. The claim involves 32 different models of Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury vehicles that were made before 2010. This includes many of the company’s top models including the Ford F-Series, which is the second best-selling vehicle of all time according to the
The result of the flaw has caused numerous accidents, injuries, and even deaths. One of the lawyers for the plaintiffs stated "Ford's unfortunate history of unintended acceleration problems has been detailed at length in the public record. While our clients seek recovery for the lost value of their cars, they also want Ford to fix the problem so that no more people are injured and no more lives are at risk because of the documented accelerator problems with Ford's vehicles." Adam Levitt, a director with Grant & Eisenhofer, said in a statement. ( On June 12, 2013 the case was filed in West Virginia federal court. This increased the magnitude of the lawsuit. As a result of Ford’s failure to fix the problem, the models that are affected by the unintended acceleration are still on the roads today. This has caused the number of plaintiffs to grow and as of February 8th 2014 plaintiffs from over 30 states have joined in on the lawsuit. They believe that people from almost all the 50 states will be involved in the lawsuit by the time it goes to trial.

Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford Motor Company

The stakeholders, or the persons who are directly affected by the business and its actions, are numerous. The first and most important stakeholder are the customers of Ford, specifically those who owned or previously owned one of the affected models. These are the stakeholders that are the most affected by the faulty electronic throttle system and the failure of Ford to add a brake override system. Next are the executives of Ford, these are the ones who are making the decisions and running the business. The third stakeholder are the people that are put in harm of the possibility of this unintended acceleration. This can be anybody on the road or near the road because most of the vehicles that have the problem have not been fixed and are still being driven today. The last stakeholder are Ford’s stockholders. In the event of a recall, lawsuit, or some kind of settlement, Ford’s stock will experience periods of decline, and little stability. The stockholders will suffer as a result of Ford’s inability to fix the problem of the unintended acceleration.

The individualism theory which was introduced by Milton Friedman is about how a person is best suited to pursue their own desires without consideration for others. With a business perspective this means that a business’s only goal is to maximize profits for its stockholders. Not only is this their goal but it’s also their responsibility. As a result of this, Ford is acting ethically with respects to individualism. This is because they are not fixing the problem of the unintended acceleration which in turn is not costing them any money at the moment. This can change though, if the current case against Ford ends up going against them this could cost the business a large sum of money. Not only will they have to pay for damages and losses but also the cost of fixing the affected vehicles. This will also affect their reliability in a negative way and may result in losses of future customers. This would cause them to not be making as much profits as possible and directly go against the theory of individualism.

Ford's faulty electronic throttle system

Utilitarianism is the theory that supports the goal is to maximize happiness for the majority of people. Happiness or pleasure are the only things of intrinsic value. It is important to remember though that the end does not justify the means. In a business perspective this means that maintaining success should not come at the expense of others. Ford is directly going against this. They are maintain success at the expense other. Ford cares more about making a profit than the safety of their customers. After numerous injuries and even deaths Ford continues to allow the problem continue causing unhappiness for many people. This is unethical under the utilitarian view because they are not maximizing happiness for the greatest number of people.

The Kantian theory comes from Immanuel Kant who also explains how one should not lie, cheat, manipulate, or harm others regardless of the positive outcomes that come from these. There are four principles that Kantianism follow first is to act rationally, don’t act inconsistently in your own actions or consider yourself exempt from rules. Second is to allow and help people to make rational decisions. Third is to respect people, their autonomy, and individual needs and differences. Last is to be motivated by good will, seeking to do what is right because it is right. Kantianism is more focused on the consequences rather than the actions. The formula of humanity explains how the use of people to get what you want is wrong. According to the Kantian views, Ford was unethical because they are harming others as a result of their actions. Their actions of not fixing the affected vehicles unintended acceleration flaws are causing harm to others. They are putting the profits they are making over the harm that is being caused as a result of their failure to fix the problem. They are not acting rationally as other car companies who have had problems with their vehicles have recalled them and fixed the problems. This directly goes against the Kantian theory.

Virtue Theory
The virtue theory, which is made popular by Aristotle, is about how you must act rationally in order to live a good life. There are four important virtues for the virtue theory and these are courage, honesty, temperance, and justice. With these virtues in mind, Ford has not shown any of them expect for temperance. Ford did not have courage, as they did not stand up for what was right. This would have been to fix the problem with the affected vehicles and pay for damages occurred. They do not show honesty because Ford has not owned up to the situation at hand and have not takin responsibility for the problem. Last they have not been shown justice as they have not faced punishments for their actions. Based on these virtues of the virtue theory one can conclude that Ford is acting unethical.

Works Cited

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"Ford Motor." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.

"Ford Sued in Class Action Claiming Sudden Acceleration." Bloomberg, n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2014.

"Get Free View Image Updates from the Cheat Sheet." View Image. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Oct. 2014.

"New Ford Unintended Acceleration Class Action Lawsuit Filed." Top Class Actions. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2014.

Press, Alisa Priddle Detroit Free. "Ford Sued over Problems with Vehicle Acceleration." USA Today. Gannett, 29 Mar. 2013. Web. 04 Oct. 2014.

Rising, James. Roadside Memorial. Digital image. James Rising. N.p., 7 Nov. 2010. Web. 21 Nov. 2014.

Senior Management Team. Digital image. Corporate Ford. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2014. 

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