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Lack of settlement to land Ford and attorneys in court

SHARE Lack of settlement to land Ford and attorneys in court

HAYWARD, Calif. (AP) — A judge ordered consumer attorneys and Ford Motor Co. to appear in court next week after they failed to settle a class-action suit alleging Ford knew a design flaw in its ignition system made more than 20 million vehicles prone to stalling.

"I am going to operate on the assumption that we are going to trial," Judge Michael Ballachey said Friday.

Attorneys for Ford and consumers said a proposed settlement they've been working on for weeks has not unraveled. They say they're working out the final details, and couldn't finish by Friday's hearing.

"We're still discussing issues, and we haven't been able to reach a final agreement," said Ford attorney Richard Warmer.

Consumer attorney Jeff Fazio said they're still undergoing "tough negotiations."

The suit challenged Ford's placement of the thick film ignition module, which regulates electric current to the spark plugs.

In 29 models sold between 1983 and 1995, the module was mounted on the distributor near the engine block, where it was exposed to high temperatures. According to internal documents obtained by The Associated Press, Ford redesigned the ignition to save money and to increase fuel economy.