When a consumer is injured by a product or service, he or she may feel there is little to do about it. However, if several consumers suffer injuries from a similar problem, they may unite to seek compensation for their damages. This is a particularly effective course of action when dealing with the automotive industry. Recent auto defect class actions have brought serious dangers to the attention of the public and have prompted auto manufacturers to take action to improve the safety of their vehicles.
A California judge recently ruled in favor of plaintiffs, allowing them to proceed with action against Fiat Chrysler, who attempted to have the lawsuit dismissed. The lawsuit alleges that the car company knew about a serious defect in the powertrain control module in one of their vehicle models but kept the information from the public. The defect in the vehicle causes it to stall, sometimes while traveling at 60 mph.
The lawsuit uses the numerous consumer complaints about stalling incidents to support its claim that the company was aware of the problem. While the judge agreed with Fiat Chrysler's defense team that plaintiffs needed more than just 50 consumer complaints to prove their case, the plaintiffs may be able to rely on several technical service bulletins Fiat Chrysler issued both before and after the cars were purchased. The automaker also issued a recall of certain minivans with a similar stalling issue just a month before the plaintiffs filed their lawsuit.
If addition to winning damages for the plaintiffs, a successful lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler may also establish a timeline during which auto manufacturers must reveal to the public potential defects in their vehicles. This could save consumers in California and beyond the stress and money of many trips to mechanics trying to diagnose such a difficult problem. Improved communication to consumers is one important benefit of auto defect class actions.