Austin anticipating lawsuit against Ford in carbon monoxide issue

In this Tuesday, July 11, 2017 photo, Austin police Ford utility vehicles are parked on East Eighth Street outside police headquarters in Austin, Texas. The Austin Police Department on Friday, July 28, 2017 pulled nearly 400 Ford Explorer SUVs from its patrol fleet over worries about exhaust fumes inside the vehicles. The move comes as U.S. auto safety regulators investigate complaints of exhaust fume problems in more than 1.3 million Explorers from the 2011 through 2017 model years.(Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

The City of Austin is considering a lawsuit against Ford Motor Company. More than a week ago, Austin pulled all of the police department's Ford Explorers off the streets. Carbon monoxide leaking into the vehicles' cabins led to 62 worker's compensation reports between March and July.

"Absolutely, we do not want one of our police officers to be out there and to suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning," APD Interim Chief Brian Manley said during a July interview.

After months with no permanent solutions to the problem, CBS Austin requested police and city leaders' internal emails about the issue. Friday, the City of Austin argued in a letter to the Texas Attorney General they couldn't make those emails public because they're "contemplating filing against the Ford Motor Company." In the letter, the city goes on to say the lawsuit has been "anticipated since May, 2017."

However, on July 11 during a press conference about the carbon monoxide problem, APD Assistant Chief Troy Gay denied there being any discussion about a possible lawsuit.

"Has there been any discussion about possible lawsuits against Ford as a department or a city?" a reporter asked. "Not at this time," Gay answered.

Friday evening CBS Austin reached out to the Austin Police Department for clarification but has not heard back yet.

In a July 28 statement about the problem, Ford said:

"Ford's investigation into this issue is ongoing. However, the company has discovered holes and unsealed spaces in the back of some Police Interceptor Utilities that had police equipment installed after leaving Ford's factory." The company goes on to say, "When a police or fire department routinely install customized emergency lighting, radios and other equipment, they have to drill wiring access holes into the rear of the vehicle. If the holes are not properly sealed, it creates an opening where exhaust could enter the cabin."

This week Ford began repairing cracked exhaust manifolds on the Explorers in Austin. The City says on Monday five vehicles were taken to local dealers so they could learn how to fix them.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off