A lawsuit filed against Ford Motor Co. alleges that several Ford and Lincoln vehicles manufactured between 2002 and 2010 are subject to unintentional acceleration and also lack "adequate fail-safe systems" to prevent crashes.
The suit filed Thursday in federal court in West Virginia seeks class-action status on behalf of consumers in 14 states, including Florida.
It describes situations in which Ford's electronic throttle system allegedly caused vehicles to accelerate unexpectedly, leaving drivers unable to stop. It does not include any claims of wrongful death or personal injury.
Plaintiffs are seeking compensation for an alleged loss of vehicle value, arguing that they were forced to pay too much for cars with defects.
The lawsuit also alleges that Ford knew about the alleged defect and concealed the problem from consumers.
"We allege that Ford knew about this problem and chose to put its own profits ahead of customer safety," said Adam Levitt, a partner and head of the consumer-practice group at Grant and Eisenhofer, the Chicago law firm that filed the complaint.
Levitt added that "it's clear from the number of affected vehicles that this is a widespread problem that goes across multiple models and years and impacts a substantial portion of the American driving public."
Ford responded to the lawsuit with a statement indicating that it had already worked with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to address what it called rare instances that could result in throttle problems:
"NHTSA's work is far more scientific and trustworthy than work done by personal injury lawyers and their paid experts," Ford said in its statement.
"In rare situations, vehicle factors, such as floor mats or broken mechanical components, can interfere with proper throttle operation," the Ford statement added, "and manufacturers have addressed these rare events in field service actions."
The suit is similar to one brought against Toyota Motor Corp. In February, Toyota reached a $29 million settlement over claims of sudden acceleration with attorneys general from 29 states and one U.S. territory.
That agreement came after Toyota announced a record-setting $1.1 billion settlement of hundreds of class-action claims alleging that the automaker's actions involving an acceleration problem had damaged the value of consumers' vehicles.