Judge Rules: Ford Can Refuse to Sell Cars to Police Suing Company

A Panhandle judge says Ford Motor Company can refuse to sell police cars to Florida law enforcement agencies that join a lawsuit against the automaker over fuel tank fires.

Circuit Judge G. Robert Barron in Shalimar has denied Okaloosa County Sheriff Charlie Morris' request that he order Ford to resume selling cars to his department.

Ford has refused to sell any more Crown Victoria Police Interceptors to Morris since July 2003, a year after he filed suit.

The lawsuit claims the full-size, V-8 powered, four-door sedans have exploded in flames when struck from behind at high speed because of poor design, in some cases killing police officers.

Last month, Judge Barron granted class-action status, permitting hundreds of Florida law enforcement agencies to join the lawsuit.

Barron says case law establishes a company's right to refuse to do business with any customer.

Since Ford refused to sell the Police Interceptors, Morris has bought Ford Explorers and says he might start buying Chevrolet Impalas, which meet Florida Sheriffs Association vehicle safety standards.