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Block Heater Blaming: Manitoba Public Insurance suing Ford over faulty block heaters

Winnipeg, Manitoba — Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) has launched another lawsuit against Ford, alleging faulty block heaters caused fires that destroyed eight vehicles in the province.

This marks the second lawsuit filed against Ford by MPI over block heater fires. The lawsuit, which was filed last week in Court of King’s Bench, claims the fires were caused by defects in the design, manufacture and/or installations of the block heaters.

The cited instances of fires happened in the province in the areas of Kenville, Stonewall, Russell and Winnipeg from March 2022 to April 2023, according to the statement of claim.

In all cases, the vehicle’s block heaters were “plugged into an appropriate power source” when the fires first started and were damaged “beyond reasonable repair,” the statement of claims further noted.

Notably, in one example given, a 2014 Escape was plugged into a power source inside a parkade in Winnipeg last February when it caught fire, and the flames spread to two other Ford vehicles parked nearby, the lawsuit said.

The insurers’ lawsuit accuses the vehicle manufacturer of negligence by failing to adequately test the block heaters to make sure they were free from defects and/or properly installed.

MPI’s lawsuit is seeking $252,212 in damages, which is the sum of the costs MPI had to pay out to the owners of the eight vehicles, plus court costs.

Last November, MPI filed a statement of claim seeking $15,932 for the loss of the 2014 Escape.

Additionally, there were 127 vehicle-fire-related claims involving block heaters or block heater cords in gas or diesel vehicles reported to MPI from 2019 to 2023, including 41 in 2022 and 21 in 2023, data provided by the public insurer says.

Currently, the lawsuit doesn’t note whether any of the vehicles’ block heaters or other parts were subject to safety recalls.

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