Thursday, 24 October 2013 22:31

BMW Attorneys Ask Court to Strike Sun Roof Class Action

BMW has asked the U.S. Northern California District Court to strike the proposed state class action status of a lawsuit filed against the company by two BMW owners who claim that drainage tubes installed to pull water away from vehicles’ sunroofs do not properly work, leading to water damage.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys claim the class should include California residents who have “owned or leased any BMW X5 series vehicles, X3 series vehicles and 5 series vehicles.”

In response, BMW’s attorneys claim in court documents, “First, the purported class is not ascertainable because it includes many persons who have no claims against BMW North America. … Those putative class members whose cars have never manifested the alleged defect, those whose sunroofs leaked for reasons other than the alleged defect and those whose cars are covered under warranty—and thus eligible for repair at no cost to them—cannot claim they suffered any cognizable injury and therefore lack standing.”

The attorneys also claim, “The class includes many vehicles purchased more than ten years ago, meaning that the transactions at issue are well outside the statutes of limitation of, for example, plaintiffs’ CLRA (three year), UCL (four year) and breach of express warranty (four year). At a minimum, persons whose claims are outside the statutes of limitation should be excluded from any proposed class.”

BMW’s attorneys also point out that it is difficult to identify owners who have “experienced water damage because of the alleged defect, rather than other reasons—including lack of maintenance, accident damage or even leaving the sunroof or trunk open before a rain storm.”

Citing the certified pre-owned BMW warranty, attorneys claim that the automaker “cannot be held liable for ‘failing to company with the warranty’ or ‘refusing to repair’ if putative class members did not comply with their own obligations under the warranty or if the warranty does not provide coverage for the damage claimed. Determining whether such compliance exists will require individualized inquiries precluding class certification as a matter of law.”

BMW’s attorneys conclude by claiming, “Plaintiffs cannot represent the putative class specified in their complaint because the class is simply too board and faces overwhelming individualized inquiries and because plaintiffs cannot satisfy basic typicality requirements. These deficiencies are plain, even at the pleading stage. For the foregoing reasons, the class allegations therein should be stricken.”

Attorneys for plaintiffs’ Monita Sharma and Erica Anderson claim “BMW designed, manufactured, distributed, sold and leased various makes and models of BMW vehicles that contain a serious design defect that significantly impacts both the safety and value of its vehicles. Specifically, numerous models of BMW vehicles manufactured during the class period were designed so that certain vital electrical components known as SDARS, RDC, and PDC modules, are located in the lowest part of the vehicles’ trunk. … Because BMW decided to place these vital electrical components in what is essentially the lowest part of the vehicle (the spare tire well under the trunk), they are especially prone to water damage that can be caused through the normal and ordinary use of the vehicle.

“When this water damage occurs, the vehicles become inoperable and pose a serious safety risk to those who experience this problem. Although these components are highly susceptible to water damage, BMW provides no warnings or advisories to BMW owners about the location of this vital equipment or the importance of keeping the vehicle’s trunk compartment free of liquids,” they continue.

The attorneys point out that drainage tubes are installed to pull water away from the sunroof.

“Unfortunately, these sunroof drains were designed in such a way that they are prone to become clogged with dirt, debris, leaves, and other naturally-occurring materials. When these tubes become clogged, they come loose or leak into the trunks of the vehicles. These leaks, which eventually flood the trunks of the vehicles, cause the vital electronic components contained at the bottom of the vehicles’ trunks to short-shutting off certain components of the automobile necessary for driving and creating a potential safety risk,” the attorneys allege.

BMW had asked the court earlier to dismiss the lawsuit by Sharma and Anderson.

The court had not issued any decision at press time.

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