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Ford Motor Co. must pay nearly $2 billion in damages to thousands of dealerships in a 2002 class-action lawsuit that said the automaker violated dealer agreements, an Ohio judge ruled Friday.

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Peter Corrigan in Cleveland issued the ruling based on a Feb. 11 jury determination that the company overcharged dealers for commercial trucks over an 11-year period.

The $2 billion award covers more than 3,000 dealerships and about 474,000 trucks. It includes a judgment of about $781 million and about $1.2 billion in interest.

"In awarding the dealers the amount of money they overpaid for trucks, the jury verdict places ... the dealers in the financial position contemplated by the terms of the contract," said James Lowe, a Cleveland attorney for Westgate Ford Truck Sales Inc., a dealership in Youngstown that represents the class.

Ford's annual report, filed on Feb. 28, says the class action included all dealers who purchased a 600?series or higher truck from Ford from 1987 to 1997. It says the lawsuit accused the automaker of failing to reveal that price concessions were given to some dealers.



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