The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has denied Subaru of America’s (SOA) motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed against it last year seeking class action status on claims of alleged spontaneous windshield breakage. The June 1, 2017, lawsuit was brought forth by Lucia Luong and Brian Mann, alleging the windshields of 2015 through 2016 Subaru Outback and Legacy vehicles “contain one or more design and/or manufacturing defects that cause the windshield to crack, chip and/or fracture.”
Subaru filed the motion to dismiss last August.
Luong is an owner of a 2015 Outback, which was purchased new during that year. She claims that in March 2017, she noticed a crack had “spontaneously appeared” from the base of the windshield, with no visible point of impact. According to the lawsuit, she was denied warranty coverage, and the replacement windshield she received suffered from the same defect.
Mann purchased a new Subaru Outback in April 2016. According to the complaint, his vehicle “is equipped with an ‘enhanced’ windshield. In February 2017, within the period of his warranty, Mann alleges he was driving and noticed a small crack on the lower right passenger side of his windshield about four to five inches above the bottom portion of the windshield. He did not see anything impact the windshield, and, within ten minutes of driving a foot-long crack had formed, according to the complaint. He alleges that within 24 hours the crack grew to approximately two feet.
In its motion to dismiss, Subaru argues that “neither plaintiff has standing to complain about replacement windshields.”
“Luong never had a replacement windshield installed (and refused Subaru’s offer to replace her windshield after this litigation was filed). It further argues that Mann’s replacement windshield is not alleged to be a Subaru-manufactured windshield,” writes the court. “…. Both Luong and Mann were denied warranty coverage for replacement of their windshields—Mann had his replaced elsewhere and paid out of pocket for a repair. Both plaintiffs allege that the value of their vehicles was affected as a result of their defective original windshields. These allegations are sufficient to allege injury … “
The plaintiffs also allege that Subaru had knowledge of the windshield defect prior to plaintiffs’ alleged purchases. Subaru argues that the “fraud-based claims must be dismissed because plaintiffs have not alleged Subaru’s knowledge of the asserted defect with sufficient specificity.”
On this point, the court ruled that “the allegations regarding Subaru’s knowledge here are sufficiently pleaded.”
In Luong’s initial complaint, her attorney cites pages worth of consumer complaints made to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regarding the issue. However, in 2015, SOA extended its windshield warranty in an attempt to remedy the situation, and cited the wiper park heater as the culprit. It also noted the glass was manufactured by Carlex.
“Proving that no good deed goes unpunished, Plaintiff’s claim derives from SOA’s voluntary decision to extend the New Vehicle Limited Warranty (‘NVLW’) for windshields in certain Outback and Legacy vehicles …,” the document reads. “Under this ‘Warranty Extension,’ customers receive a replacement windshield at no charge (or obtained reimbursement of out-of-pocket costs already paid) if the deicer area of the windshield … became damaged.”
According to the company, it provided notice to all owners of affected vehicles, and Luong’s damage did not fall under the warranty.
The order denying Subaru’s motion to dismiss was dated May 2 and filed by U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers.