Judge in Loan-Bias Lawsuit Gives Ford 30 Days to Settle

Gary Tanner, AP, Mar. 17

NASHVILLE, March 16—A federal judge said Wednesday that the plaintiffs in a lawsuit proved that a lending affiliate of the Ford Motor Co. discriminated against black customers by charging them higher interest rates on car loans.

After a two-week trial, U.S. District Judge Aleta A. Trauger said she would rule against Primus Automotive Financial Services, a unit of the Ford Motor Credit Corp.

She gave the two sides 30 days to negotiate a settlement to end the discrimination. By agreeing to negotiate, the defendants did not give up their right to appeal her eventual ruling.

The lawsuit lists 11 plaintiffs, but lawyers said thousands of black customers were discriminated against and are included in the class action. The lawyers said the customers were unfairly charged hundreds of thousands of dollars more than they should have been on car loans.

The plaintiffs were not seeking damages in the case.

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Settlements in the other cases have included the companies capping interest-rate markups that dealers can make to loans and establishing “affirmative lending” programs for minority customers.

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