Judge Issues Order in Class Action Suit

U.S. District Court Judge Noel L. Hillman recently issued an order which grants parts and denies parts of the defendants, Subaru of America, Inc. and Subaru Corporation (collectively Subaru) motion to dismiss. This is the latest development in the ongoing class action suit, originally filed by Christine Powell against Subaru for allegedly defective windshields.

“The Court will grant in part and deny in part defendants’ motion to dismiss. The Court will deny defendants’ motion for a more definite statement,” a portion of the order reads.

According to Judge Hillman’s opinion, the 16 named plaintiffs have a basis for their claims. He stated it was premature to determine whether or not they had standing to pursue claims for the vehicle models named in the suit. The vehicles involved include: 2017-2020 Subaru Forester, 2017-2020 Subaru Outback, 2017-2020 Subaru Crosstrek, 2017-2020 Subaru Legacy and 2017-2020 Subaru Impreza vehicles.

“Here, plaintiffs’ claims clearly all have the same basis: the allegation that the windshields on the class vehicles are defective,” a portion of Judge Hillman’s opinion reads. “The court finds that, for the purposes of this motion, the products appear to be closely enough related to avoid dismissal.”

Judge Hillman allowed the plaintiffs to advance the majority of the counts — including claims for fraud and violations of several state consumer protection statutes — that they brought in several cases that have been consolidated.

The express warranty claims were denied by Judge Hillman, the claims were based on the automaker’s argument that described, alleged design defects that aren’t included in its vehicle warranty. The judge agreed with Subaru that the drivers cannot get around a requirement to have at least 100 named plaintiffs to bring a claim under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. He dismissed that claim, as well as one for unjust enrichment, for all of the members in the proposed nationwide class.

According to court documents the plaintiffs in this case are seeking replacement windshields and reimbursements for their repair costs, or for Subaru to buy their cars back.

Background

The suit alleges Subaru was “manufacturing, marketing and selling new vehicles with defective and dangerous windshields that were spontaneously and/or unreasonably cracking, chipping and otherwise breaking.”

Subaru’s brief, which advocated for dismissal, said the drivers can’t sue over models they didn’t drive. The plaintiffs, according to court documents, have stated the auto manufacturer failed to inform them of the alleged dangerous defect and refused to cover the replacement cost. Subaru however has stated the claims “fail as a matter of law due in part to the overly broad class.”

According to the plaintiffs consolidated complaint, the vehicles represented in the case include 2017-2020 Subaru Forester, 2017-2020 Subaru Outback, 2017-2020 Subaru Crosstrek, 2017-2020 Subaru Legacy and 2017-2020 Subaru Impreza vehicles (collectively known as class vehicles). The plaintiffs are seeking replacement windshields and reimbursements for their repair costs, or for Subaru to buy their cars back, according to the consolidated complaint.

According to court documents, Subaru stated no plaintiff has ever purchased, leased, or owned a: Legacy of any model year; any 2017 Crosstrek, Forester, or Impreza; any 2019 Impreza; or any 2020 Crosstrek, Forester, or Impreza.

The suit added 15 new plaintiffs in February 2020. In March 2020 Subaru filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim and lack of jurisdiction. In its most recent motion, Subaru notes several “errors” the plaintiffs have made. In September, the law office representing Subaru of America and Subaru Corporation (collectively Subaru) wrote a letter to U.S. District Court Judge Noel L. Hillman, to support a motion to dismiss filed in June 2020. According to Subaru’s lawyers, the letter is to provide “supplemental authority to support dismissing the lawsuit. The letter noted Powell has not met certain requirements listed in the auto manufacturer’s responses to the complaint.

Look to a future edition of glassBYTEs for more information on this suit.

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