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Lawsuit Claims Faulty Cruise Control Switch Led to Fatal Fire in Ford F-150 Pickup

Iowa Woman May Be First to Die Due to Ford Problem

HOUSTON, June 15 -- Attorneys in Houston have filed suit on behalf of an Iowa woman claiming her death in a fire last month was the direct result of a problem with the family's Ford F-150 pickup truck.

Darletta Mohlis of Westgate, Iowa, died in a fire at her home on May 2, 2005. Her husband of 34 years, Earl Mohlis, was injured in the fire, but survived.

Investigation showed the fire started in the F-150, then spread through the garage and the rest of the home. Further study has narrowed the list of potential causes to a cruise control deactivation switch.

Such switches already are the subject of a Ford recall, and an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA. In January, Ford recalled 740,000 Ford Expeditions, Lincoln Navigators and F-150 pickups that contained the switch. NHTSA is investigating reports of approximately 200 fires that have occurred in those vehicles.

Although Ford recalled only vehicles it manufactured in 2000, the automaker used the same switch on those it made from 1995-2002. The lawsuit alleges Ford deliberately limited the recall to save money. The Mohlis' F-150 was a 1996 model.

"If the company knows about the problem with the 2000 models, then it must also know the same trouble exists with the 1996 truck and the others," says Rob Ammons of the Ammons Law Firm in Houston, who represents the Mohlis family. "They made a decision based on cost. And in May, Darletta Mohlis paid the price."

The Mohlis family is also represented by David Willis of the Willis Law Firm, also in Houston.

The lawsuit, filed in the 157th Judicial District Court in Harris County, also names Texas Instruments and DuPont as defendants. Texas Instruments made the switch in question and Dupont manufactured Kapton(R) and Teflon(R) coatings used in the switch.

More information on the problem with Ford cruise control switches can be found at: .

Rob Ammons is an attorney with a national practice specializing in the prosecution of automobile product liability cases including vehicle rollovers, fuel-fed fires, crashworthiness cases, and tire failures.

For more information on the lawsuit in the Mohlis case, contact Mark Annick at 800-559-4534, pager 214-967-2299 or .