FCA Defective Head Rest Lawsuit Can Proceed

FCA Defective Head Rest Lawsuit Can Proceed

A California federal judge has denied FCA US LLC’s motion for summary judgment in a case alleging defective head rests.
  • By: Staff Writer
  • Published October 9, 2022

A California federal judge has denied FCA US LLC’s motion to exclude two expert opinions and motion for summary judgment in a case alleging defective head rests.

As detailed in the court’s September 21, 2022, order, the named plaintiff filed suit alleging FCA US, LLC, violated various laws by manufacturing and selling vehicles with defective head rests that spontaneously propelled quickly forward, striking the driver on the back of the head.  The court had previously certified a class in the lawsuit—pending since 2018—of “[a]ll persons in California who currently own or lease, or have owned or leased, any Class Vehicle manufactured by [Defendant] or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates that is equipped with an Automatic Head Restraint (‘AHR’) system.”

FCA US LLC sought to exclude the opinions and testimony of Drs. Francesco Bioni and Mariusz Ziejewski, two of the plaintiff’s experts.  The court found FCA’s objection to the experts could be resolved by relying on FCA’s own competing experts and cross examination. 

FCA US LLC also filed a motion for summary judgment against all of plaintiff’s claims—violations of California consumer and business laws, as well as breach of express and implied warranty.  FCA claimed, for instance, that it had no knowledge of the alleged defect at the time the plaintiff bought his vehicle, and some of the claims were moot because FCA created an extended warranty program guaranteeing free replacement of parts that malfunctioned.  The court denied FCA’s motion, finding in part that genuine issues of material fact existed.

The vehicles designated class vehicles by the court in May 2020 are as follows:

  • 2010-2018 Dodge Journey
  • 2010-2011 Dodge Nitro
  • 2010- 2012 Jeep Liberty
  • 2010-2017 Jeep Patriot or Compass
  • 2010-2012 Dodge Caliber
  • 2010-2018 Dodge Caravan
  • 2010-2018 Town & Country
  • 2011-2018 Dodge Durango
  • 2011-2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • 2010-2014 Sebring/Avenger
  • 2010- 2014 Chrysler 200

The court set the case for a status hearing regarding trial setting on October 27, 2022, with the parties to file a joint status report at least fourteen days beforehand.

The case is Shawn Alger v. FCA US, LLC, case number 2:18-cv-00360-MCE-JDP, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California. 

You can read the order below:

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