Volvo Owners Tell Appellate Court That Lawsuit Over Alleged Sunroof Defect Should Continue

The owners of Volvos involved in a six-state class action lawsuit against the automaker have filed a “Brief of Appellees” in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, arguing that the case should go forward despite Volvo’s objections. The owners had sued Volvo, alleging that the sunroof on several models harbors a defect, allowing water to flood the vehicles. A lower judge approved a six-state class action and Volvo responded by appealing this decision to the Circuit Court.

“On March 26, 2013, the district court issued an opinion that (a) denied appellees’ motion to certify a nationwide class, (b) granted appellees’ motion to certify six-state subclasses and (c) denied motions for summary judgment filed by Volvo,” according to the court documents.

Volvo then moved for reconsideration of the order granting class certification based on Comcast Corp. v. Behrend. … The district court determined that Comcast was distinguishable and denied Volvo’s motion. Volvo now appeals, pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P 23(f), the district court’s order granting class certification with respect to six statewide classes,” appellees attorneys explain.

“[V]olvo contends that the district court erred in finding the appellees’ claims could be proven with common evidence, and that issues common to the class predominate over individual ones,” appellees’ attorneys write in the court documents. “Preliminarily, Volvo’s arguments overlooks the massive factual record before the district court when it considered the motion for class certification. In addition to the voluminous class certification briefing, there was briefing regarding plaintiffs’ proposed trial plan, Daubert motions and motions for summary judgment. All of the motions for summary judgment dealt with the applicable state laws of the six certified state subclasses and attacked on the merits of appellees’ claims under those laws. It was only after the district court’s consideration of all the above briefing and exhibits—consisting of nearly one thousand pages—that it determined class certification of the six-state subclasses was appropriate.”

“[I]F Volvo’s position was an accurate reflection of the law, no class could ever be certified,” appellees’ attorneys claim. “As demonstrated in the underlying briefing, and as found by the district court, determination of the truth or falsity of the core questions regarding the existence of a common design defect will resolve issues that are central to the validity of each of the claims and will do so in one stroke. … Because the district court’s decision is consistent with these principles, it should be affirmed.”

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).

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