SAN FRANCISCO — Nissan has won part of a motion to dismiss class-action claims against the carmaker involving alleged defects in its Altima brand.
Nissan of North America, Inc., filed a motion to dismiss in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California over a class-action suit filed by California resident Elisa Cabebe, on behalf of others, claiming the 2013-2014 Altima models had transmission issues with its four-cylinder models, and that Nissan knew about the defects and chose to conceal the problem. On Oct. 26, 2018, U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick granted the motion in part.
Judge Orrick granted Nissan's motion to have two claims, one in Pennsylvania and one in New York, for fraudulent omissions dismissed, due to the claims not meeting legal requirements. In the Pennsylvania case, a fraudulent concealment claim is limited to transactional relationships.
The class action alleges that Nissan Altimas manufactured in 2013 and 2014 equipped with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine "in the states of California, New York, and Pennsylvania contain design and/or manufacturing defects that can cause the continuously variable transmission ('CVT') to malfunction ('CVT Defect'). The class action contends that not only did Nissan know of the CVT defect in 2012 and attempted to conceal the information, but they also 'failed to adequately address' the issue."
Drivers "reported a significant delay in their cars’ response while attempting to accelerate from a stop, merge into freeway traffic, or pass another vehicle," court paperwork says. Reports of revving engines, upshifting and downshifting continuously, stalling, jerking, shaking and other issues were reported. According to the filing, the defects "occur without warning during vehicle operation," posing an "extreme and unreasonable” safety hazard to drivers, passengers and pedestrians.
Additionally, the court paperwork contends that the Nissan "became aware of the CVT Defect from 'preproduction testing, numerous consumer complaints, warranty data, and dealership repair orders'. It is alleged that the company failed to recall the Altimas for repair of the defect 'or provide an appropriate solution to customers free of charge, or offer to reimburse the costs.'"
Nissan did issue multiple technical service bulletins and voluntary service campaigns for a fix that, the court papework claims, have failed to adequately address the defect.