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Ford F-150 Sparked Chicago Fire: Lawsuit Says

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on October 06, 2011 6:47 AM

Illinois resident Guadalupe Mendez says that a Ford's cruise control started the fire that burned her house down in 2006. Mendez's neighbor's truck, a Ford-F-150 pickup, is alleged to have sparked the blaze. Mendez has now filed a lawsuit against Ford.

Surprisingly, this lawsuit won't be the first legal action against Ford for its cruise control. Several other suits have been filed against the automaker.

Ford's cruise control is designed such that there is an electrical current running through it at all times - even when the car is turned off. The lawsuit alleges that the cruise control switch only needs 1/2 an amp of power. It continually gets 15 amps, which can cause it to overheat and start fires.

If the lawsuit's allegations are true, Ford may be in some trouble.

Especially because it seems that Ford should have notice of the cruise control problems. Ford has recalled over 10.4 million cars over problems with its switches since 1999. In fact, the company recalled 4.5 million cars in 2009 over faulty switches.

The switches were linked to around 550 instances of vehicle fire.

Under products liability law, Ford may be found accountable. Car manufacturers are held responsible if their products are defective.

Ford could be found responsible for a design defect if a court finds the cruise control switch was faulty.

And it seems like evidence might point that way if the facts alleged are true.

Ford's response will have to answer why the switched needed 15 amps. If a court finds that Ford's cruise control did start the fire, the automaker will likely be paying Mendez damages.

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