Court Rejects Volvo’s Motion to Decertify Class Action Involving Sun Roofs That Leaked Due to a Defective Design


With the Supreme Court make the criteria for class certification more stringent, cases are still getting certified in the consumer protection and fraud area for products with common design defects. In a recent case against Volvo, a class action of consumers has been certified for a lawsuit against the car company alleging that defective sunroofs leaked, leading to flooding and damage inside the car. The lawsuit was filed in New Jersey U.S. District Court by Joanne Neale and seven other Volvo owners. Each plaintiff experienced an issue with the sunroof drainage system which resulted in damage to the inside of the vehicle. Each of these consumers were told that the sunroof drain was not covered under their warranty and so the cost of fixing or repairing the drain fell on the consumers. For some, this included the cost of whatever damage was cause by the faulty drain, such as replacing the carpeting in the vehicle. The cost of implementing these repairs ranged from $250 to over $1,000. The plaintiffs filed the lawsuit and asked for certification of either a nationwide class or statewide class.

The defective sunroofs allegedly affect Volvo models S40, S60, S80, V50 (model years 2004 to present), and XC90 (model years 2003 to present). The class action includes Volvo owners and lessees in Massachusetts, Florida, Hawaii, New Jersey, California, and Maryland. According to the lawsuit, the defective sunroofs allegedly resulted in damage to the vehicles’ interior components, including carpeting and safety-regulated electrical sensors and wiring. The lawsuit further alleges that Volvo knew about the design defect, based on the existence of numerous consumer complaints as well as internal Volvo communications and Technical Service Bulletins which were issued by Volvo in an attempt to deal with the problem.

Volvo filed a motion for summary judgment and to decertify against the plaintiffs saying that the definition of the nationwide class and the definition of the statewide classes were too broad. In their motion to reconsider, Volvo noted a recent Supreme Court decision in which the Court ruled in favor of the defendant, Comcast. In that case, the plaintiffs, a class of current and former Comcast cable consumers, provided an expert witness who testified with hypothetical examples of what cable prices would have been without Comcast’s allegedly illegal business practices. The Supreme Court ruled that the methodology used by the expert was unsound and, on that basis, the Court denied the plaintiffs class action status.

The Volvo case, according to the New Jersey U.S. District Court judge, had verty little in common with the Comcast case. In his opinion, Judge Dennis Cavanaugh wrote that “Defendants argue that this court should reconsider its opinion that granted plaintiffs’ motion for certification for statewide classes due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Comcast. … However, this case is entirely distinguishable from Comcast. … Here, the damages issue is much more straightforward – all class members who purchased defendants’ product were allegedly damaged by a design defect.” The U.S. District Court therefore saw no reason to decertify the statewide class action in the Volvo case and denied the defendant’s motion for to reconsider as well as the motion for summary judgment against the plaintiffs.

Our Chicago autofraud and Lemon law attorneys near Arlington Hts. bring individual and class actions suits for defective cars with common design defects and auto dealer fraud and other car dealer scams such as selling rebuilt wrecks as certified used cars or misrepresenting a car as being in good condition when it is rebuilt wreck or had the odometer rolled back. Super Lawyers has selected our DuPage, Kane and Cook County auto-fraud, car dealer fraud and lemon law lawyers as among the top 5% in Illinois. We only collect our fee if we win or settle your case. For a free consultation call our Chicago class action lawyers at our toll free number 630-333-0333 or contact us on the web by clicking here.

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