No NHTSA Recall?
By MEGAN GALLEGOS
(CN) - Drivers whose brakes failed while they were behind the wheel can sue Nissan as a class for unfair business practices, a federal judge ruled.
Brandon and Erin Banks joined David Soloway in a complaint against Nissan North America after they each experienced brake failure while driving an Armada and Infiniti QX56, respectively.
Their complaint in Oakland, Calif., alleges that the Delta Stroke Sensor braking system in Nissan's 2004 to 2008 Titan models is defective.
The defect involves the vehicles' electronic computing unit receiving erroneous information, which keeps the antilock braking system from receiving the information necessary to assess and apply power assist to the individual brakes.
Such malfunctions allegedly cause a 60 percent loss of braking power.
Soloway and the Banks claim that Nissan has received more than 300 complaints about its defective breaks from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which included "instances of wrecks, injuries and death," but that the car manufacturer did not notify consumers.
U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton certified the class on Dec. 19 to include all "consumer residents in California who own 2004-2008 Nissan Armada Titan (equipped with VDC) and Infiniti QX56 vehicles manufactured before April 1, 2008 ('Affected Vehicles') and all consumer residents in California who do not presently own Affected Vehicles but incurred monetary loss caused by the failure of the Delta Stroke Sensor in their Affected Vehicles. This definition specifically excludes any and all persons who assert personal injury claims arising from or relating to the failure of the Delta Stroke Sensor in their affected vehicles."
Hamilton said the class deserves certification because it meets a four-point criterion, which "requires that plaintiffs demonstrate numerosity, commonality, typicality and adequacy of representation in order to maintain a class."
While it is true that the braking defects in some vehicles may have been caused differently, there is commonality in the allegation that Nissan knew of the defect and violated consumer protection laws by not notifying consumers, according to the ruling.
Hamilton also pointed out that "class-wide treatment 'will reduce litigation costs and promote greater efficiency,'" though the class could receive relief by going through a recall.
The class also has leave to file a fourth amended complaint, according to the ruling.
Clayeo Arnold in Sacramento, Calif., represents the plaintiff.