Super Duty lawsuit over the Ford Super Duty

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Navistar, the company that used to be International Harvester’s truck division and is now the manufacturer of both long-haul trucks and heavy duty diesel engines, has sued Ford Motor Company.
 
Again.
 
For several hundred millions of dollars.
 
The breach of contract lawsuit was filed in a state court in Chicago.
 
Ford and Navistar have been at each other’s legal throats for several months over the Powerstroke engines in the Super Duty line of Ford pick-up trucks, engines which Navistar supplies to Ford. Depending on whose viewpoint you accept, the problem either started because Navistar supplied engines which required exceptionally high levels of warranty work or Ford hadn’t paid the agreed price for the engines which it received. Ford claims Navistar owes it for warranty work that it was obliged to perform on trucks equipped with Navistar engines and which its contract with Navistar allows it to pass through to the engine manufacturer. Navistar claims Ford’s just a deadbeat, and hasn’t paid for what it’s received.
 
Things got truly nasty when Navistar ceased shipping engines to Ford just as Ford was introducing the newest Super Duty line, which deprived dealers of vehicles just as the product was being launched.
 
The supply problem was resolved when Ford won a temporary injunction against Navistar, but Navistar countered with a suit against Ford over the money. 
 
Now Navistar claims that Ford is developing a 4.4 liter diesel for the next generation F-150, due in either 2009 or 2010. According to Navistar, that violates its contract with Ford. Navistar claims in its lawsuit that it had been working on an engine of those specifications under its contract with Ford. Reports vary about whether Navistar is claiming that Ford has taken over development of an engine Navistar initiated or is, instead, planning to source the engine elsewhere.
 
The newest Navistar lawsuit is actually an “anticipatory” breach of contract action, the legal equivalent of suing someone for what they’re thinking of doing. Such lawsuits are normally thought harder to prove than suits for a completed breach of contract, because much of the suit is speculative. However, suing now might open the door to Navistar seeking, through the discovery process, inside information from Ford to which it would otherwise not have access.
 
This much, however, is clear: they’ve gotta be smiling over at Caterpillar. And GM. And Dodge.


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