Court Order Grants $8M Volkswagen Settlement in Sunroof Class Action Suit
August 10, 2012

by Casey Neeley,

U.S. Magistrate Judge Patty Shwartz has signed an order granting an $8 million settlement in a class action suit filed against Volkswagen (VW) alleging damages caused by defective sunroof drains. The order was signed on August 3 in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

The consolidated class-action suit, filed by plaintiffs John M. Dewey, Patrick DeMartino and Patricia Romeo, all of whom own VW models listed in the complaint, argued that VW violated New Jersey's consumer fraud law by creating and distributing the models, including the allegedly defective sunroofs, despite knowledge of the malfunction.

According to the complaint, "Despite their longstanding knowledge of the problems, defendants failed to warn and disclose to the consumers that the vehicles were predisposed to flooding that would lead to serious and dangerous damage to the major electrical components which caused the motor to either nonfunction or malfunction."

Plaintiffs further stated in the complaint that the, "use and enjoyment of their vehicles [was] impaired due to defendants' failure to warn of the design defects and defendants' failure to properly and adequately set forth proper maintenance guidelines."

According to the complaint, the defects include a too-small pollen filter as well as a narrow sunroof drain. Both of these defects allegedly caused the backup and improper drainage of water. This improper drainage made the transmission control module prone to corrosion. Car interiors were often damaged, mildewed, and difficult to clean properly, according to court documents.

Models affected include the 2001-2007 VW New Beetle, 2001-2005 VW Jetta Wagon A4, 2001-2006 Golf A4, 2005-2007 VW Jetta A5, 2006-2007 VW Golf and GTI A5, 1999-2005 VW Passat B5, 1997-2006 Audi A4 B5 and B6, and 1998-2005 Audi A6 C5. The complaint does not identify the manufacturer of the sunroof utilized in the vehicles.

The suit, filed May 11, 2007, initially reached settlement two years ago, but had been delayed through appeals. Shwartz approved the order on a preliminary basis via telephone conference on August 1, and set the final approval hearing for November 9, 2012.

Neither party had responded to requests for comment at press time.

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