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Heating Fire Hearing: MPI launches lawsuit against Ford after block heater fire damages vehicle

Winnipeg, Manitoba — Manitoba’s public insurer, MPI, has launched a lawsuit against Ford Motor Company after a block heater fire damaged a vehicle in Winnipeg.

The lawsuit claims either the block heater or its installation was defective and this directly resulted in a fire that damaged a 2014 Ford Escape model that was parked in a lot of a business on Raleigh Street in November 2021.

The vehicle in question was parked with its block heater plugged into “an appropriate power source when it caught fire and was damaged beyond reasonable reasonable repair,” says the claims statement filed Nov. 24 in Manitoba’s Court of King’s Bench.

As the insurer of the vehicle, MPI is seeking $15,932 for the loss of the 2014 Ford Escape, pulse interest payments and other costs/

The Crown corporation’s suit alleges the fire was caused by “defects in the design, manufacture, and assembly of the Escape by Ford,” or by defects in the design, manufacture, or installation of the block heater.

It says the automaker owed a duty to the owner of the Escape to ensure the vehicle and the block heater met appropriate standards and were safe for use.

Ford breached that duty by failing to exercise “care, skill, diligence, or competence in approving the design of the Escape and the block heater,” and failing to adequately test the block heater and ensure proper installation of it, MPI alleges.

After the vehicle was damaged, MPI was required to pay the $15,932 for the vehicle plus items such as insurance deductible, reimbursement of GST and towing costs, the lawsuit said.

This is not the first time MPI has filed a lawsuit related to a block heater fire. In 2021, MPI filed a claim against Toyota Canada and other parties, including a local dealership, after a vehicle was destroyed in a fire.

Currently, Ford Canada has not yet filed a statement of defence in court.

However, MPI has offered suggestions to drivers on how to prevent future block heater fires and these include: not driving over your extension cord; covering your block heater plug-in with a protective cover; unplugging your block heater by using the hard rubber end rather than pulling on the cord; and having your block heater cord inspected by a mechanic each fall.

The insurer also advises people to not plug in their vehicles inside a garage or other enclosed space.

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