Friday, June 13, 2008

Ford Gets Away With . . . Well . . . Nothing, Actually

The SJC issued a fascinating consumer protection decision today, Iannacchino v. Ford Motor Co., SJC No. 10059. The plaintiffs alleged that Ford had violated the Commonwealth's consumer protection law, known as Chapter 93A. They alleged that door latches on certain Ford models were defective when subjected to government-mandated testing. This ended up to be incorrect. And the plaintiffs did not allege they'd been hurt by the supposed defect.

Not surprisingly, the plaintiffs lost.

The reasonably groundbreaking aspect of this case is that it happened at a very early procedural stage. The SJC has now adopted the U.S. Supreme Court's new standard for dismissing complaints on Rule 12 motions, discussed earlier here. Supporters of this approach say that it's protecting defendants who have not done anything wrong from having to pay significant legal fees and engage in expensive discovery. The competing view is that courts are moving away from the simple notice pleading requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and injecting unnecessary layers of procedural technicality into the process.

It's a close call.

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