AUSTIN (KXAN) — An Austin police officer and his wife are suing Ford Motor Company and others after they say the officer got carbon monoxide poisoning while sitting in a police vehicle manufactured by Ford.
Pedro Garza III, an Austin police officer, and his wife Son Thi Nguyen Garza are suing several companies for an incident stemming from 2017. Garza III was working on-duty and was in his 2014 Ford Explorer Police Interceptor when he became dizzy and ill and was taken to the hospital. He was diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning which the couple claims resulted in neurological issues that he continues to seek treatment for.
The couple is suing for more than $1 million and is accusing the company of being “grossly negligent” in failing to inform the public or police department of the issues with the vehicle and failing to rectify the problem when it became apparent. They claim a cost-effective and technologically viable solution was available, but the company did not use it.
Other companies named on the lawsuit are groups who performed service on the vehicle and failed to diagnose or fix the problem. The companies are unnamed because the plaintiffs don’t know which companies they are. They hope to find out which companies they are through the “discovery” process when each party provides documentation related to the case.
The lawsuit claims the defect that caused carbon monoxide to fill up in the SUV was particularly harmful to police officers “because police vehicles are typically left running throughout an officer’s shift in order to avoid the need to re-boot the vehicle’s computer equipment.”
KXAN reached out to Ford Motor Company for comment on this lawsuit, but they did not respond.
This isn’t the first lawsuit by a police officer against Ford over a similar issue. In June 2017, Austin Police Sergeant Zachary LaHood sued the company stemming from an incident from a few months before. LaHood also experienced symptoms similar to those that Garza III did and was taken to the hospital.
A month after the 2017 lawsuit was filed, Austin Police pulled its fleet of nearly 400 Ford Explorer Police Interceptors off the streets for fear of officers getting carbon monoxide poisoning. Between March and July of 2017, 20 police officers tested positive for carbon monoxide.