U.S. District Judge Certifies California Class Action Against Chrysler for Alleged Window Regulator Defect

The U.S. District Court for Central California has certified a California class action against Chrysler over alleged defective window regulators. Plaintiffs has also pushed for a class action to be certified for Maryland; however, the court denied this motion after it discovered one of the class representatives had already sold her vehicle before she was involved in the complaint.

“Plaintiffs describe the function and composition of a window regulator and they provide an overview of its design and operation. Included is an explanation that the glass window pane is attached to a plastic window bracket, which makes the bracket prone to mechanical failure. When the plastic fails, a metal spiral cable separates from the bracket and the window falls,” according to the court documents summarizing the alleged defect.

“Depending on the angle of the fall, the affected window can bind, stick, tip forward or chatter, but often it crashes to the bottom of the door, sometimes with sufficient force to shatter the glass,” plaintiffs allege in the court documents.

“[A]s noted and upon review of the record, the court finds that the plaintiffs have defined an ascertainable class and that they have shown that the Rule 23(a) and Rule 23(b) requirements have been met. Therefore, the court grants the motion for class certification and certifies the California class described in the supra section III.B,” the judge writes.

The California class is comprised of “’all persons and entities in the state … who own(ed) or lease(d) a model year 2002 through 2007 Jeep Liberty Vehicle and who purchased a replacement regulator from, or otherwise had a replacement regulator installed by Chrysler or its network of authorized dealers at any time on or after June 10, 2009,’ but before December 9, 2010 for model-year 2006-2007) or January 11, 2011 (for model-year 2002-2005).”

Chrysler asked the court for sanctions in the form of an adverse inference instruction at trial and a finding that Robin Allen, one of the representatives for the Maryland class action lawsuit, is not “a proper class representative.”

“Allen herself investigated the possibility that she had a claim against Chrysler by visiting counsel’s website devoted to that topic. She thereafter sought contact with counsel and indicated an interest in pursuing a claim. Although she and counsel both represent no substantive communication occurred prior to her trading in the vehicle, no bad faith is required in order for the court to impose the least severe evidentiary sanction of instructing the jury that is may make an adverse inference as a result of Allen’s sale of the vehicle,” the judge writes.

“[T]herefore on this record, the court finds that an adverse inference instruction regarding Allen’s sale of her vehicle is warranted. The court therefore grants Chrysler’s motion for evidentiary sanctions. … The court also grants Chrysler’s request that Allen be found to be an inadequate class representative.” the judge continues.

“[T]he Maryland class fails to meet the typicality requirement of Rule 23(a)(3). The motion to certify a Maryland class is denied for that reason,” the judge writes.

To read the judge’s decision, click here.

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