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FORD TRANSMISSION CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT VACATED

On September 13, 2019, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated approval of the class action settlement in the case Vargas, et al. v. Ford Motor Company (D.C. 2:12-cv-08388-AB-FFM). The Appeals Court found that the settlement may not have been fair and adequate to class members, and remanded it for further review.

This settlement had provided that class members–owners of certain Ford Focus and Ford Fiesta models with transmission issues–would give up their individual lemon law and consumer fraud rights in exchange for certain consideration such as smaller cash payments or coupons toward a new purchase, and an arbitration process paid for by Ford with limited remedies.

With approval of the settlement vacated, our firm is pursuing individual claims on behalf of consumers who suffered with these defective transmissions.

The current status of the class settlement is that the federal district court will examine it more closely, and may again choose to approve it. Therefore, we recommend that consumers considering pursuing a claim make sure to investigate your legal rights without delay, as they may again disappear or be reduced by re-approval of the settlement.

2011-2016 Ford Focus and 2011-2016 Ford Fiesta vehicles built with dual-clutch transmissions prone to shuddering, slipping, bucking, jerking, hesitation while changing gears, premature internal wear, delays in downshifting and, in some cases, sudden or delayed acceleration may be affected by the class settlement.

These problems and Ford’s failure to take responsibility for them have become better known, which may increase the value of your potential claim.

If you have had these or any other problems with your vehicle, contact us for a fast, free and confidential evaluation today.

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Update: FCA (Jeep – Chrysler – Ram) ZF 9HP Class Action Settlement

We have previously written about how class actions affect individual lemon law claims and about the FCA ZF 9HP class action specifically.  This is an update.  

It appears the class settlement was in fact approved by the Court, or at least that FCA took action on it.  A company called Dahl Administration LLC is administering the settlement claims process, including notification about the right to opt out.  

Choosing to remain in the settlement and receive a smaller cash payment or coupon, or to opt out and potentially seek a buyback in a lemon law claim is an important decision.  If you do nothing and remain in the settlement, it is possible Dahl Administration will determine that you receive no cash compensation whatsoever. Missing the chance to opt out is something we have seen consumers regret once they understand what their lemon law rights are.  

What’s interesting is that it appears the settlement was only approved at the end of November 2018, and yet the opt-out deadline was January 2, 2019.  This means that FCA and Dahl Administration only had slightly more than a month to notify class members of the important effects of the class settlement on their individual rights.  Further, that notice period just happened to overlap three major holidays.

What are the chances that consumers were properly notified?  Furthermore, what are the chances that FCA cares? They will surely argue that lemon law rights were wiped out by the failure to opt out, whether the notice was viable or not.

In answering these questions, a picture is worth a thousand words.  Check out this opt out notice.

Granillo, et al. v. FCA US LLC, et al. Opt Out Notice

Note the postmark date (1/14/19) versus the opt out date (1/2/19).   It would be tough to opt out two weeks after the deadline has passed, unless you have a time machine handy.  

Somehow, we don’t think think it was lost on FCA or Dahl Administration that they were mailing notice of the opt out deadline after it was impossible to meet.  

Our office has seen FCA use other class settlements administered by Dahl Administration to try to defeat lemon law claims.  Often consumers are shocked when they learned that they were supposedly notified in advance.

So what should you do if you receive a late opt out notice?  First, make sure to save it. Documentation is critical. Second, all of the facts of your claim have to be taken into account to determine how the settlement may affect your individual lemon law claims. Because the opt out deadline is technically already passed, the sooner you act the better.  Contact us today if you would like a quick evaluation.

P.S. The same ZF 9 Speed transmission involved in the Granillo class action is also in 2014-2017 Range Rover Evoque, 2015-2017 Land Rover Discovery Sport, certain trims of 2015-2016 Honda Pilot and 2015-2017 Acura TLX and in Fiat 500X.

 

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Honda CR-V Lemon Law Issues (Engine & Transmission)

At Goldsmith West, we have noticed a trend of consumers experiencing problems in recent model year Honda CR-V models, including 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. These problems include but are not limited to problems with the engine, drivetrain and powertrain problems, loss of power, vibration, hesitation, cooling system, problems where the vehicle will not start, problems with the powertrain control module (PCM), engine knocking and stalling.  

There have also been a series of incidents of reported fuel in the oil, and odor of gas fumes inside the cabin of the vehicle. 

2018 model year in particular seems to have excess concerns about problems with gasoline in the oil tank

Attribution: ABC15 Arizona

These vehicles are also equipped with CVT transmissions, which are known to have a litany of issues, as seen in class action cases for other models. (Links) There has been at least one recall issued for this vehicle. (Link) 

There has also been a problem with the Electronic Brake Booster (EBB) system for which a technical service bulletin (TSB) was issued.

Consumers may experience the following Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs): P0300, P0301, P0302, P0304, P0172, P0297, P2187, P2583-76, and U3003-16.

 

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Lemon Problems with Jeep & Chrysler ZF 9HP Transmission

A Federal Court is considering approval of a class action settlement involving alleged Transmission Defects in certain Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) vehicles.  Affected models include 2014 Jeep Cherokee, 2015 Jeep Cherokee, 2015 Jeep Renegade, 2015 Chrysler 200, and 2015 Ram ProMaster City.

The alleged defects include harsh or erratic shifting, clunking, hesitation, banging into gear, malfunction indicator lights, and premature wear or failure of transmission components.

Among other consideration, the settlement proposes to give cash payments or trade-in vouchers according to the following schedule:

  Number of Transmission Related Complaints  

3

4-5

6 or More

  Cash Payment  

$400

$800

$2,000 

  Trade-In Voucher Value  

$1,000

$2,000

$4,000

Depending on the circumstances, however, the same number of complaints could entitle you to all your money back under an individual lemon law claim, even if you no longer own the vehicle.  However, if you do not take specific steps to opt out of the class action, you might only receive a few hundred dollars or a voucher coupon for the same claim.  In fact, if you do not opt out, and you miss a deadline, you might get nothing.   We have seen this happen to prospective clients.  

Our firm has previous experience working on the defense side of lemon law claims, as well as working in-house for a major automaker.  We know how these cases work from every angle. Because our fees are awarded by law, you do not have to pay us for working on your case.  And if you don’t achieve a recovery, we don’t get paid.

If you feel your vehicle may be a lemon, please contact us for a fast, free and confidential evaluation.

UPDATE 11/20/18: It appears the settlement has been approved.   The opt out deadline is January 2, 2018.  For assistance opting out of the settlement, please contact us immediately.

 

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Nissan CVT Transmission and Lemon Law

There have been a number of class action lawsuits in Federal Courts which allege Transmission Defects in certain Nissan vehicles equipped with Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVT).  Affected models include certain recent model years of Nissan Sentra, Nissan Altima, Nissan Rogue, Nissan Versa, Nissan Pathfinder, Nissan Juke, Nissan Note, Infiniti JX35, Infiniti QX60, Our law firm has also seen this trend emerge in clients’ individual lemon law claims.

A CVT has a continuous range of gear ratios and is designed to allow the vehicle to shift gears while driving in a smooth way.  Theoretically, this design should reduce or eliminate the “shift shock” felt when a transmission shifts gears.

However, it has been alleged that Nissan’s CVTs experience sudden, unexpected shaking and violent jerking (commonly referred to as ‘juddering’ or ‘shuddering’) and that the vehicles hesitate when trying to accelerate, increasing the risk of injury or death.  Other related concerns include stalling or loss of power, illumination of the check engine light, also known as the Malfunction Indicator Lamp or MIL (association with Diagnostic Trouble Code or DTC P0776), reduced performance due to CVT fluid temperature, and need for Transmission Control Module or TCM reprogramming.  It is further alleged that the Nissan CVT transmission may also wear down or fail prematurely, often just after expiration of the warranty.

If any of the class actions proceed to judgement or settlement, history has shown that class members may might receive compensation such as reimbursed costs, a warranty extension, or a simple cash payment or coupons based on the number of transmission complaints experienced.  

Depending on the circumstances, however, the same number of complaints could entitle you to all your money back under an individual lemon law claim, even if you no longer own the vehicle.  However, if you do not take specific steps to opt out of the class action, you might only receive a few hundred dollars or a voucher coupon for the same claim.  In fact, if you do not opt out, and you miss a deadline, you might get nothing.   We have seen this happen to prospective clients.  

Our firm has previous experience working on the defense side of lemon law claims, as well as working in-house for a major automaker.  We know how these cases work from every angle. Because our fees are awarded by law, you do not have to pay us for working on your case.  And if you don’t achieve a recovery, we don’t get paid.

If you feel your vehicle may be a lemon, please contact us for a fast, free and confidential evaluation.

 

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Engine Defects in Kia and Hyundai Vehicles

There have been a series of class action suits regarding an engine defect in “Theta II” engines in Kia and Hyundai vehicles.  These suits allege a defect that causes “engine sludge,” or failure of the engine to lubricate itself properly – which can lead to an engine knocking condition, loss of power, stalling, premature engine wear and eventually failure, a fire in the engine, and other problems, such as interference with power steering.  

So far, the list of vehicles alleged to be affected includes the following:

2011 Kia Optima 2011 Kia Sportage 2011 Kia Sorento 2011 Hyundai Sonata 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe
2012 Kia Optima 2012 Kia Sportage 2012 Kia Sorento 2012 Hyundai Sonata 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe
2013 Kia Optima 2013 Kia Sportage 2013 Kia Sorento 2013 Hyundai Sonata 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe
2014 Kia Optima 2014 Kia Sportage 2014 Kia Sorento 2014 Hyundai Sonata 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe
2015 Kia Optima 2015 Kia Sportage 2015 Kia Sorento 2015 Hyundai Sonata
2016 Kia Optima 2016 Kia Sportage 2016 Kia Sorento 2016 Hyundai Sonata

Kia and Hyundai have taken the position that the defect only affects a very small number of vehicles and is caused by a flaw in the manufacturing process that leaves metal debris in the crankshafts.  They have admitted the problem requires engine replacement, but they have continued to blame the “metal debris in manufacturing process” even while claiming the previous problems were fixed by improving the manufacturing process.

 

Our firm has seen examples of these defects, and the effect can be nasty.  Besides the problems with the engines themselves and the questionable recalls, even when performed there is reason to be concerned about dealerships performing widespread engine replacements.  Dealerships are not set up to be factories, and the delays in getting the parts also implicates the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act’s “30-day” rule.  

Remember there are important factors to consider when deciding whether to remain in or opt out of a class action, and that pursuing your own individual lemon law remedy will nearly always be worth substantially more than what you would recover as an unnamed member of a class action.   

Contact us if you have a related problem in your vehicle, or if you would like more information.

 

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