WASHINGTON (CBS)- Six Washington state troopers filed a class-action lawsuit against Ford Motor Company Wednesday saying their patrol vehicles gave them carbon monoxide poisoning. The officers claimed they were poisoned because of an alleged design flaw.
They alleged their Ford Explorer cruisers have a defect that allows exhaust fumes containing carbon monoxide to get into the passenger compartment. That allegedly caused them to experience symptoms like headaches, nausea and foggy thinking.
The lawsuit said the defect with the climate control system is in Explorer model years 2011-2018. Ford’s fix, according to the lawsuit, was to replace the exhaust system, “which was merely a bandaid fix as the exhaust system would warp and fail again.”
In a statement Ford said safety is a top priority and blamed after-market equipment installed on the police vehicles for creating unsealed holes. A separate lawsuit was filed Thursday by five troopers against the Washington State Patrol, CBS affiliate KOIN-TV reports.
CBS News transportation correspondent Kris Van Cleave has reported that police departments in more than a dozen states raised concerns about possible carbon monoxide leaks. In a frightening 2015 crash in California, the police officer driving passed out.
Newport Beach police officer Brian McDowell was responding to a non-emergency call when he passed out behind the wheel of his 2014 Ford Explorer police cruiser and crashed into a tree. “I just think, plus or minus one second I maybe wouldn’t be here on this earth for my kids,” McDowell told CBS News in 2017.
That year, police departments rushed to add carbon monoxide detectors in their vehicles. “They live in these cruisers for, you know, eight hours at a time, maybe longer,” said Capt. Shawn Steele of the fire department in Auburn, Massachusetts, where at one point a third of the town’s cruisers were taken out of service.