The city of Philadelphia on Thursday filed a lawsuit against Ford demanding that the car maker fix its Crown Victoria police cars, which have been involved in the deaths of at least 16 US police officers, a Reuters report said.
 
Philadelphia, joining lawsuits against Ford filed in at least eight other states, reportedly said taxpayers should not have to pay to improve the safety of the police cars, which are used by about 85% of US police departments.


Reuters said that Ford insists the police cars are safe, but it made changes to the 2003 model year Crown Victoria, adding at its own cost rubber and plastic shields to protect petrol tanks, mounted behind the rear axle, which have exploded in high-speed rear-end collisions, resulting in the deaths of police officers.


“We believe that the Crown Victoria police interceptor is a very safe vehicle,” Ford spokeswoman Carolyn Brown told Reuters though she added she had not seen the Philadelphia lawsuit and therefore could not comment on it.


Reuters noted that Ford also sells an optional “trunk pack” to store sharp-edged or heavy equipment to prevent a petrol tank puncture in a high-speed crash but the city of Philadelphia reportedly criticised Ford for charging police departments for safety equipment and for not seeking an independent source to recommend changes to the ‘Crown Vic’.


In a statement cited by Reuters, Philadelphia City Solicitor Nelson Diaz said, “I watched the litigation unfold around the country, and despite the lawsuits and deaths of police officers, Ford refuses to independently test their proposed fixes, refuses to pay for the best fix available, and the fires continue.”


A city spokesman told Reuters no Philadelphia police officers had been hurt, but with 700 Crown Victoria police cars in its fleet, the city wanted to offer the best protection available.


The news agency noted that US safety regulators last year wrapped up a probe into the Crown Victoria and concluded there was nothing inherently wrong with the police car.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the vehicle withstood a 30 miles per hour (48 km/h) rear-end collision without fuel spillage in excess of established limits, Reuters added.


However, the Texas city of Dallas reportedly said last July that in two 75 miles per hour (120 km/h) crash tests, Crown Victorias equipped with the trunk pack had significant fuel leaks.


According to Reuters, Philadelphia officials said Ford has been sued by police departments in Louisiana, Florida, Ohio, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Illinois, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.