A New Jersey federal judge last week trimmed claims from a class action lawsuit accusing Jaguar Land Rover Automotive PLC of manufacturing and selling defective electronic air suspension systems in some of its Range Rover vehicles, putting drivers and passengers in a potentially dangerous situation.
Plaintiffs Simon Majdipour and Pamela Austin filed the Range Rover class action lawsuit, claiming that Range Rovers from 2003 to 2006 have a defective air suspension system that “causes the suspension system’s rubber air bellows … to develop leaks, releasing air pressure and losing the ability to properly hold the vehicle’s weight.” This situation may result in the sudden loss of air suspension in one side of the vehicle, causing an inability for the driver to steer the vehicle in a straight line, according to the class action lawsuit. The plaintiffs argue that the manufacturer was aware of the problem but failed to warn consumers.
On Wednesday, October 9, U.S. District Judge William H. Walls dismissed some of the claims in the Range Rover class action lawsuit, but will allow some of the claims to proceed. He dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims that the manufacturer violated the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (NJCFA), breach of express warranty and unjust enrichment. He will allow their claims of common law fraud, breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing and certain claims that only apply to California Class Members.
Land Rover argued that California and New Jersey consumer laws conflict, and that only California’s consumer fraud laws should apply. The plaintiffs disagreed with this argument, claiming that a choice of law analysis was premature at this stage in the litigation. They argued that Range Rover failed to demonstrate that the NJCFA conflicts with California’s consumer protection laws. Further, they claimed, even if the court did find a conflict between the laws, New Jersey law should apply because it has the closest relationship to the class action lawsuit. Judge Walls rejected their arguments.
“The court finds that the NJCPA and California’s consumer protection laws do conflict, that conducting the choice of law analysis is appropriate at this time, and that California’s consumer protection laws should apply because it has the most significant relationship to the case,” Judge Walls said. Similarly, he found a choice of law conflict in the breach of warranty claims, but agreed with the plaintiffs that New Jersey law would apply to these claims.
However, the judge agreed with Land Rover that the express warranty does not require Land Rover to predict the possible future failure of its vehicle parts. He also dismissed the plaintiffs’ unconscionability argument finding “(t)here is nothing substantively unconscionable about a six-year/75,000 mile warranty per se.”
Judge Walls also found that the plaintiffs’ unjust enrichment claims should be dismissed under the laws of both states because New Jersey law does not permit a cause of action for unjust enrichment when the claim involves allegations of fraud, and California has no cause of action for unjust enrichment.
The plaintiffs are represented by Matthew Mendelsohn and David A. Mazie of Mazie Slater Katz & Freeman LLC and Payam Shahian of Strategic Legal Practices APC.
The Range Rover Suspension Defect Class Action Lawsuit is Simon Majdipour and Pamela Austin, et al. v. Jaguar Land Rover North America LLC, et al., Case No. 2:12-cv-07489, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.
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