A California federal judge has indicated he will grant preliminary approval to a proposed class action settlement involving allegations that BMW of North America LLC concealed a transmission defect in its MINI Cooper automobiles. If approved, the class action settlement would pay thousands of drivers as much as $9,000 for vehicle repairs.
U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez requested more information about the class size and suggested some revisions in the MINI Cooper class action settlement notice. Plaintiffs’ attorneys indicated that approximately 1,200 MINI Cooper owners had their transmissions replaced at BMW dealerships. However, it is unclear how many drivers took their MINI Coopers to a third-party facility for repair.
The plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit alleged that BMW hid the MINI Cooper transmission defect from customers at the same time it issued bulletins acknowledging the issue to BMW dealerships. The transmission defect can cause significant delays in acceleration, loss of forward propulsion and total transmission failure while driving. Even more concerning is the tendency of the transmissions to fail without warning. These transmission defects can contribute to traffic accidents that may lead motorists to experience serious injury or death.
In their class action lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege that BMW sacrificed the quality of the MINI Coopers in an effort to keep the vehicle prices low. Therefore, the company manufactured cars of substandard quality that put consumers at risk. The plaintiffs accuse the car company of prioritizing profits over customer safety.
Since the first MINI Cooper transmission defect lawsuit was filed in 2011, four similar class action lawsuits have been filed. The plaintiffs’ attorneys estimate that the number of Class Members in these consolidated class action lawsuits could number in the tens of thousands.
Judge Gutierrez has said that he will wait to approve the MINI Cooper transmission defect settlement until he receives an updated estimate of the number of likely Class Members.
Under the terms of the proposed class action settlement, BMW will reimburse drivers under the eight-year/150,000 mile warranty for all of their out-of-pocket expenses associated with the transmission repair. The plaintiffs have estimated their repair costs to range from $6,000 to $9,000. The proposed class action settlement will also provide a maximum of $4,100 to Class Members who had their MINI Coopers repaired at a third-party facility and up to $2,000 to consumers who sold the vehicles at a loss due to the transmission defects. BMW has also agreed to cover all future repairs for MINI Coopers up to 150,000 miles and eight years.
Owners of MINI Coopers who replaced their vehicles’ transmissions after the warranty expired will receive a three-year/50,000-mile parts warranty, according to the class action settlement.
Plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit are represented by Roland Tellis and Mark Pifko of Baron & Budd PC and Payam Shahian of Strategic Legal Practices, among others.
The BMW MINI Cooper Transmission Defect Class Action Lawsuit is Aarons v. BMW of North America LLC, Case No. 11-cv-07667, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
UPDATE: Judge Gutierrez preliminarily approved the MINI Cooper Transmission Class Action Settlement. Details on how to file a claim will be available soon
UPDATE 2: Notices and claim filing instructions for the MINI Cooper settlement are being delayed by disputes between the two parties. Both sides asked the Court to intervene to expedite administration of the class action settlement benefits.
UPDATE 3: Claim filing instructions are now available! See how to file a claim for the MINI Cooper class action settlement here.
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