Northern California Record

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Judge modifies award for attorneys’ fees, costs for plaintiff in case against FCA over Jeep defects


By Payton Kuhn | May 24, 2019

Money 02

FRESNO – Following a verdict levied against auto maker FCA for violations of the Song-Beverly Act, a magistrate judge for the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of California has awarded the plaintiff reduced awards for attorneys’ fees and costs accumulated throughout the case.

In a court order issued on May 6, Magistrate Judge Sheila K. Oberto granted Sandy Self, the plaintiff, a modified award of $41,633.86, stating that the “matter was suitable for decision without oral argument.” The award breaks down to $37,164 for attorney's fees and $4,469.86 in costs.

The case stems from the plaintiff’s claim that FCA violated the Song-Beverly Act by failing to notify her that the 2011 Jeep Liberty she purchased in December 2010 was delivered with “serious defects and nonconformities to warranty including, but not limited to transmission, electrical, suspension, and engine defects,” the order states. She alleged that the Totally Integrated Power Module that the car was equipped with led to most of the issues she experienced.

The plaintiff alleged the defendant did not disclose the defect prior to the purchase and that it had "superior and exclusive knowledge" of the defects, the ruling states.

The ruling notes that the defendant offered to repurchase or replace the vehicle in April 2016 and the plaintiff did not accept it. Her suit was filed in July 2017 in Fresno County Superior Court and the defendant later removed it to the current court.

The ruling states the defendant offered to resolve the case for $45,000 plus costs in February 2018, but the plaintiff also declined this offer.

In February of this year, a jury found in favor of Self regarding these claims and awarded her $84,666 in damages and civil penalties.

The plaintiff had originally requested nearly $221,000 in attorneys’ fees and enhancements, however, Oberto found the reduced award to be suitable.

Knight Law Group and Hackler Daghighian Martino & Novak represented the plaintiff.

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U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of CaliforniaU.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, Fresno DivisionFresno County Superior Court