As the public waits for Ford to issue a recall on its 5th-generation Explorers, the Austin police department has decided to take action, pulling dozens of Ford Explorer patrol vehicles from its fleet due to reports from officers that their vehicle interiors are filling with dangerous carbon monoxide gas.
So far, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has received more than 150 complaints concerning carbon monoxide leaks in 5th-generation (2011-2017) Ford Explorers.
Additionally, Ford has faced at least one class action lawsuit, which began after a 5-year-old girl suffered from carbon monoxide. The lawsuit resulted in a settlement that included any owner or lessee of a 2011-2015 Explorer from Florida dealerships.
Despite all this, Ford has refused to issue a recall on the defective vehicles, instead opting for the issuance of technical safety bulletins; however, that may all change amid national news coverage that Ford Explorer-related carbon monoxide leaks are becoming a growing problem for our nation’s law enforcement.
The Austin Police Department says the first incident of carbon monoxide exposure in a Ford Explorer patrol vehicle occurred back in March. In that instance, an officer, Zachary LaHood, began to feel nauseated before striking a curb and calling for help.
Officer LaHood has since made a full recovery and has filed a lawsuit against the Ford.
Since the incident, APD has placed paper carbon and hardwired monoxide detectors in all Ford utility vehicles. Things seemed to quite down for APD until last week when six officers reported carbon monoxide leaks over a six week period.
These reports were followed by the hospitalization of two more APD officers who fell ill Wednesday evening due to carbon monoxide poisoning. The conditions of the officers have not been released.
In reaction to the string of carbon monoxide incidents, the Austin Police Department has begun pulling their modified Ford Explorers from their fleet. So far, the department has pulled 37 interceptors from service, and the city is considering whether to replace all of its 400 Ford Explorer patrol vehicles (about 60 percent of its fleet).
In addition to LaHood’s lawsuit, CNN reports that at least three officers from other states are considering bringing their own lawsuits. Among those is a 30-year-old officer from Northern California who suffered a stroke after suspected carbon monoxide poisoning.
Officials with NHTSA say they are investigating the patrol vehicles as well as civilian Ford Explorers.
Every year, 400 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning not linked to fires. Additionally, more than 20,000 visit emergency departments, and more than 4,000 are hospitalized.
Even when not fatal, carbon monoxide poisoning can have long lasting effects including irreversible brain damage, loss of memory, and other mental impairment.
Common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:
If you think you or someone you are with may have carbon monoxide, seek emergency medical care immediately.
If you or a loved one has suffered carbon monoxide poisoning, contact Thomas J. Henry immediately. Thomas J. Henry has handled numerous carbon monoxide cases and has knowledge and resources necessary to represent victims of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Thomas J. Henry injury attorneys are available 24/7, nights and weekends. Contact us now for a free consultation.