A class action alleging defective clutch systems in certain Dodge Darts is proceeding to class notice. Specifically, the plaintiffs allege the defective clutch system causes the vehicle’s clutch pedal to lose pressure, stick to the floor, and fail to engage or disengage gears, resulting in the vehicles stalling and failing to accelerate, as well as premature failure of the Clutch Systems components, including the clutch master cylinder and reservoir hose, clutch slave cylinder and release bearing, clutch disc, pressure plate, and flywheel. The plaintiffs allege this defect exists in certain 2013-2016 Dodge Dart vehicles equipped with a Fiat C635 manual transmission.
The remaining causes of action in the case are: 1) state and federal breach of implied warranty of merchantability claims under the Song-Beverly Act and the MMWA, and 2) a Consumer Unfair Competition Law claim premised on the breach of implied warranty claims.
In 2018, the district court denied class certification, and in 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the ninth Circuit reversed this decision and remanded the case. Subsequently, the district court granted Plaintiff’s renewed motion for class certification, defining the class as “All persons who purchased or leased in California, from an authorized dealership, a new Class Vehicle primarily for personal, family or household purposes.”
In March 2020, FCA moved to decertify the class, arguing that it raised significant individual issues in identifying the class members, the proposed class would require numerous individual trials to determine affirmative defenses, and individual issues would predominate with respect to damages. Alternatively, FCA argued the class definition should be limited to “California residents who purchased a Class Vehicle from an FCA US LLC authorized dealership in the state of California primarily for personal, family, or household purposes, and who still own the vehicle and have not settled any disputed claim with FCA US related to the vehicle.”
In May 2020, the court denied FCA’s motion, and, later that month, the plaintiffs filed a notice of renewed motion for an order approving the class notice and notice plan, which the court granted in part. The parties have been ordered to file a joint report on class notice fourteen days after the class notice period closes.
The case is Carlos Victorino, et al. v. FCA U.S. LLC, case number 3:16-cv-01617-GPC-JLB, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.