Class Certification Granted in Automotive Defect Suit

Judge Dean D. Pregerson certified the class under Rule 23(b)(3) in a suit alleging an undisclosed defect in certain Nissan vehicles.  The court certified California consumer protection and implied warranty claims, a Washington consumer protection claim, and a claim for common law fraud.  The case is Falco v. Nissan N. Am. Inc., 2016 WL 1327474 (C.D. Cal. Apr. 5, 2016).

Several times, the court relied on the ample Ninth Circuit precedent for certifying automotive defect cases:

The Court finds this case raises similar common questions of fact and law to the common questions alleged in another consumer automobile defect class certification case, Chamberlan v. Ford Motor Co., 402 F.3d 952, 962 (9th Cir. 2005). … In these consumer defect cases, commonality can be found in the very legal and factual question of the defect. See, e.g., id.; see also Wolin v. Jaguar Land Rover N. Am. LLC, 617 F.3d 1168, 1172 (9th Cir. 2010); Doyle v. Chrysler Grp. LLC, No. SACV 13-00620, 2014 WL 7690155, at *6-7 (C.D. Cal. Oct. 9, 2014); Parkinson v. Hyundai Motor Am., 258 F.R.D. 580, 595-96 (C.D. Cal. 2008).

The court also approved Plaintiffs’ two closely-related damages methodologies.  First, class members who already spent money on repairs and diagnoses can be provided restitution based on “the average cost of repair.”  Second, class members who had not already paid for repairs could still receive restitution based on the same figure because

the class would be getting the benefit of their bargain because they would be put in the same position they would have been had the car not been sold with the defective timing chain system — it is the cost necessary to make the vehicles conform to the value Plaintiffs thought they were getting in the price tendered.

(emphasis added).

One final point of interest: the parties and the court appeared to assume that plaintiffs would need to show that the defect posed an unreasonable safety risk.  A 2015 California Court of Appeal decision casts that principle into serious doubt.  See Rutledge v. Hewlett-Packard Co., 238 Cal. App. 4th 1164, 1174 (2015) (“neither Daugherty nor Bardin preclude a duty to disclose material information known to a manufacturer and concealed form a consumer.”); Norcia v. Samsung Telecommunications Am., LLC, 2015 WL 4967247, at *6 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 20, 2015) (“pursuant to Rutledge, the Court rejects defendants’ argument that Samsung’s duty to disclose here was limited to defects relating to safety concerns.”).