Court denies amended motion for class certification in alleged Dodge Dart defects case

By Elizabeth Alt | Jun 13, 2018

SAN DIEGO – The Southern California District Court issued a ruling to deny a group of plaintiffs’ motions to certify a class of people who bought or leased certain year models of the Dodge Dart they allege has a defective clutch.

SAN DIEGO – The Southern California District Court issued a ruling to deny a group of plaintiffs’ motions to certify a class of people who bought or leased certain year models of the Dodge Dart they allege has a defective clutch.

Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel issued the court order on June 1 emphasizing that the ruling to deny certifying the class of plaintiffs was tentative. 

Plaintiffs Carlos Victorino and Adam Tavitian sought to certify a nationwide implied warranty class, California implied warranty class and an injunctive relief class. Their complaint stated violations of California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act and California’s unfair competition law, breach of implied warranty pursuant to Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, breach of implied warranty pursuant to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, and unjust enrichment against FCA USA LLC, the manufacturer of the vehicles.  

The plaintiffs claim that Dodge Dart vehicles for the years 2013-2015 that have a Fiat C635 manual transmission have a defective clutch system. The complaint states that the clutch reservoir hose degrades and causes the hydraulic fluid to become contaminated, causing the master clutch cylinder to fail. 

FCA issued a “Clutch Pedal Operation X62 Extended Warranty” to address the problem and replace “the hydraulic clutch master cylinder and reservoir hose,” the order states. The plaintiffs claim this does not fully fix the problem, and state “the well-known industry standard requires that all component parts within the system must be replaced,” the order states.

FCA claimed that the defect is only in an estimated 16 percent of the vehicles. 

FCA argues that the plaintiffs do not have typical claims and are not adequate to represent the class and that their counsel is not adequate for class litigation, noting that their counsel violated California Rule of Professional Conduct and ethical rules, and claim counsel improperly solicited third-parties.

Curiel agreed with FCA that Tavitian is not an adequate class representative, noting the court’s previous sanction against Tavitian for spoliation of evidence “based on his failure to preserve the slave cylinder, the clutch master cylinder and a connecting hose that were removed from his vehicle…four months after the complaint was filed,” the order states.

The motion to certify a nationwide implied warranty was denied because the plaintiffs failed to conduct any due process analysis and cannot “demonstrate that common issues predominate over the different questions posed by each state’s law,” the order states.

The court order denied the motion to certify an injunctive relief class because the plaintiffs’ defined people who bought and sold the vehicles in the injunctive class, failing to show how “the injunction they seek is applicable to the entire class.”

Curiel noted the California Implied Warranty Class was “overbroad,” noting that the plaintiffs “have not set forth a damages model that is consistent with their theory of liability,” and that they “have failed to demonstrate the predominance factor” for the Song-Beverly Act.

The court noted that the order to deny the class certifications was “tentative,” noting that at the hearing the court would “entertain additional arguments.”

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California case number 3:16-cv-1617-GPC-JLB

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