At Volvo’s request, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to review the six-state class action status of a lawsuit which alleges defects to the automaker’s sunroofs. Volvo made the appellate request after a New Jersey District Court judge declined to reconsider the class certification.
The initial lawsuit was filed in New Jersey U.S. District Court by Joanne Neale of Needham, Mass., and seven other owners. The lawsuit covers Massachusetts, Florida, Hawaii, New Jersey, California and Maryland. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit allege there is a defect in the automaker’s sunroofs, which allegedly allows water to flood their vehicles. They contend the “defect” sunroofs are on Volvo’s S40, S60, S80, V50 (model years 2004 to present), XC90 (model years 2003 to present) and V50 (model years 2005 to present).
“Plaintiffs sought to certify a nationwide class applying New Jersey law to claims for consumer and common law fraud, breach of implied warranty, breach of express warranty, and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing,” Volvo’s attorneys write in their Appellate Court case summary. “On March 26, 2013, the District Court denied certification of a nationwide class because of variations in applicable law. However, the District Court granted plaintiffs’ alternative motion to certify six statewide classes to pursue claims under the laws of California, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey.
“Appeal is taken from the order certifying six statewide classes and the order denying reconsideration of that order. In addition, to the extent they facilitated the District Court’s class certification decision, appeal is taken from the orders precluding the testimony of Volvo’s expert witnesses offered in opposition to class certification, the orders denying reconsideration of those orders and the order denying Volvo’s motion to preclude the testimony of plaintiffs’ proffered expert, Dr. Charles Benedict,” the attorneys write in court documents.
“[T]he District Court certified six statewide classes. It did so without examining the elements of any claim under the laws of any state, without examining the common and individual issues with respect to those elements, and without weighing the common and individual issues against each other with respect to those elements,” Volvo attorneys continued.
“The District Court also rejected Volvo’s argument that certification was improper because plaintiffs had not demonstrated that the fact or amount of damages could be proved with common evidence. The District Court certified litigation classes even though key elements of the six statewide classes could not be shown with class-wide evidence and even though the classes included many people who could not recover had they brought individual claims under their state’s law,” attorneys claim. “The District Court facilitated its class certification decision by using erroneous standards to exclude Volvo’s proffered expert evidence and admit plaintiffs’ proffered expert evidence.”
The Third Circuit Court has not issued a decision at press time.
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