A judge for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has upheld two claims and dismissed one claim against BMW in a complaint brought against the company by two vehicles owners alleging a sunroof defect.
The plaintiffs in the case are two BMW owners, Monita Sharma and Eric Anderson, who filed a class action lawsuit against BMW alleging their vehicles suffered water damage after the drainage tubes installed to pull water away from the sunroofs did not work properly.
“This is a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of individuals [California residents who have owned or leased any BMW X5 series vehicles, X3 series vehicles and 5 series vehicles] … that were manufactured between 1999 and 2008. The plaintiffs allege that the class vehicles were manufactured with a serious safety defect that may cause the vehicles to lose power while driving, rendering them unmerchantable,” plaintiffs’ attorneys allege in the third-amended complaint.
In her decision, the judge explains, “[P]laintiffs contend they have now alleged sufficient facts to support a finding that BMW was aware of the asserted defect at the time plaintiffs purchased their vehicle. … The court agrees.
“Specifically, plaintiffs now rely on a service information bulletin issued by BMW in February 2009, which predates plaintiffs’ respective purchases,” the judge writes. “The bulletin pertains to the E60 (5 Series) model, describes its subject as ‘various electrical problems caused by water ingress,’ and, in the portion of the bulletin titled ‘situation,’ states that ‘[w]ater ingress into the luggage compartment may cause various electrical problems or faults associated with [various specified components.]”
The judge writes that the bulletin is “sufficient at the pleading state to show BMW’s awareness of the existence of the asserted defect prior to the dates on which plaintiffs purchased their respective vehicles.”
While the bulletin only pertains to the 5 Series, the judge writes it is sufficient since both models involved in the lawsuit have the same asserted design defect.
The judge also ruled that the statute of limitations for the complaint had not lapsed since the owners did not discover the alleged issue with the sunroof until late 2012 and early 2013, though they purchased the vehicle earlier.
For the third claim, BMW’s attorneys contend plaintiffs failed to state any facts to support a breach of implied warranty of merchantability.
“Given that the plaintiffs purchased used vehicles covered by express warranties with durations in excess of three months, the duration of the implied warranty of merchantability applicable to each such vehicle is three months from the date of the sale,” the judge writes. “Consequently, Sharma purchased her vehicle in May 2009, the duration of the implied warranty of merchantability applicable to her vehicle ended no later than the end of August 2009, and as Anderson purchased his vehicle on March 12, 2010, the duration of the implied warranty applicable to his vehicle ended on June 12, 2010.
“The court finds unpersuasive plaintiffs’ argument that where a product has a latent defect, the manufacturer breaches the implied warranty of merchantability on the date of the sale,” she writes.
The judge dismissed the third claim for relief in favor of BMW; however, the other two claims by the plaintiffs were upheld.