Judge approves Ford Explorer settlement

Ford Motor Company unveiled the 2002 Ford Explorer August 3 during a product briefing for journalists at Ford's Design Center in Dearborn, Michigan. REUTERS/John C. Hillery

DETROIT (Reuters) - A California judge has approved a class action settlement for 800,000 owners of Ford Motor Co F.N Explorers that were alleged to have lost value after a tire recall prompted concerns of potential rollover crashes.

Judge David De Alba approved the settlement Tuesday after a hearing in Sacramento County Superior Court on the class action lawsuit that covers purchases or leases of new Explorers from 1991 to 2001 in California, Illinois, Texas and Connecticut.

The complaint alleged purely a loss of value for the Explorers and did not relate to personal injury or damage claims related to Explorer crashes.

“We are satisfied with the judge’s decision,” Ford spokeswoman Kristen Kinley said. “We feel that although the case is without merit and we proved that in court, we also believe the settlement is right for our customers.”

Ford agreed to issue discount certificates valid for one year worth $500 toward the purchase or lease of a new Explorer or $300 toward the purchase or lease of any other new Ford, Mercury or Lincoln brand vehicle for the settlement.

Attorneys representing the class members will receive fees of up to $25 million paid by Ford.

Ford and the class attorneys submitted the settlement in November and it received preliminary approval in December.

In 2000 and 2001, Bridgestone Corp 5108.T unit Firestone made a massive recall and replacement of several tires supplied as original equipment on Explorer SUVs that federal safety investigators had linked to deadly crashes caused by blowouts or tire tread separations.

Ford has denied that its Explorer SUV was prone to rollover crashes.

Reporting by David Bailey, editing by Gerald E. McCormick