Ford sued by former UK workers for pensions’ transfer to Visteon image

Ford was sued by more than 1, 400 former UK employees for making misleading statements about the transfer of their pensions to Visteon Corporation during the spinoff of the auto parts company in 2000.

A U.K. judge ruled the claims, all filed at a London court between January 2011 and March 2012, should be tried as a group litigation. Visteon separated from Ford in 2000 and filed bankruptcy in 2009 as the auto parts industry was facing reduced production caused by slowing vehicle sales.

The company had a $553 million deficit in 2009 on the pension plan that had been transferred from Ford, lawyers for one group of ex-employees said in documents filed at a London court in March. Anyone “who transferred their accrued entitlements in the Ford Pension Scheme to the underfunded Visteon Scheme was exposing themselves to the risk that they may lose their accrued benefits,” reads the court filing.

“While Ford recognizes the severity of the situation for former Visteon U.K. employees, Visteon became an independent company in 2000 and was responsible for its own business decisions,” Ford UK spokesman Brian Bennett told Bloomberg. Visteon was not available to comment.