Court Dismisses Honda Odyssey Transmission Lawsuit

A class action lawsuit alleging a defect in 2018-2019 Honda Odyssey transmissions has been dismissed. But the plaintiffs will get another chance to make their case.

The suit pertains to 9-speed (ZF 9HP) automatic transmissions. These transmissions, the plaintiffs claim, were designed to increase fuel economy, but came at a “significant and undisclosed cost.” This cost, they say, is “rough and delayed shifting, loud noises during shifting, harsh engagement of gears, sudden, harsh accelerations and decelerations, and sudden loss of power.” In turn, they argue, the alleged defect causes unsafe conditions, such as difficulty changing lanes or accelerating from a stop.

The complaint raised claims including violations of state consumer protection laws, breach of implied and express warranties, and unjust enrichment.

In challenging the complaint, Honda argued in part that it failed to adequately plead a defect. The court agreed, finding the complaint “only pled symptoms of a defect” did not give Honda “proper notice of what, exactly, it must defend.” Although the plaintiffs had pled that Honda had failed to prevent some defect, this was insufficient notice of what defect was at issue. It was not specific enough, the court went on to explain, that they identified the transmission as the affected system. As the court noted, the transmission is made up of “innumerable component parts and interrelated systems.”

In dismissing the complaint, the court gave the plaintiffs the chance to file an amended complaint on some of the claims they raised. The order gives them 30 days to do so.

The case is Ronda Ann Browning, et al., case number 5:20-cv-05417-BLF. It is in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.