Named Plaintiffs in Android Auto Lawsuit Allowed to Intervene in Separate Suit

Named Plaintiffs in Android Auto Lawsuit Allowed to Intervene in Separate Suit

  • By: Staff Writer
  • Published December 23, 2020

The named plaintiffs in a putative class action filed in 2019 in the United States District Court for the District Court of New Jersey have been allowed to intervene and serve as named plaintiffs in a previously filed, similar lawsuit against Volvo Cars of North America, LLC, and Volvo Car USA, LLC (collectively, “Volvo”) in the same court.

In November 2019, Fredrick Scott Levine and Douglas W. Murphy, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, filed a class action complaint, styled Levine et al. v. Volvo Cars of North America, LLC et al, case number 2:19-cv-19821, in the United States District Court for New Jersey.

Their complaint alleged Volvo “made substantial efforts to distinguish the Volvo XC90 from its competitors’ automobiles by marketing it as more technologically advanced and unique than the competition,” including touting a technology user interface called “Sensus.” The plaintiffs claimed Volvo “stated in its press releases and marketing materials that a significant, cutting edge feature of Sensus was that it was or would be compatible with the coveted Google application, Android Auto,” which would allow drivers to integrate features in their Android smartphones with the Sensus system. Android Auto, as described in the complaint, allows users to control their smartphones through the car’s touchscreen display, steering wheel buttons, and/or voice commands, and certain smartphone applications and functions, such as telephone calls and direction applications, appear on the console.

The plaintiffs in the 2019 complaint alleged the availability of the USB Installation Kit followed the filing of a prior lawsuit against Volvo relating to the Android Auto, Middien v. Volvo Cars of North America, LLC, case number 1:17-cv-11721-LTS, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, which the plaintiff in that case—Robert Middien—voluntarily dismissed due to jurisdictional issues. Mr. Middien then refiled the case in the District Court of New Jersey, case number 2:18-cv-03760.

In their 2019 complaint, Mr. Levine and Mr. Murphy noted that they had filed a motion to intervene and amend the complaint in Mr. Middien’s case to name themselves as plaintiffs and proposed class representatives, and explained they filed the November 2019 lawsuit in the event that motion was denied.

On February 24, 2020, United States Magistrate Judge James B. Clark, III, issued an order in Mr. MIddien’s case allowing Mr. Levine and Mr. Murphy to intervene and file an amended complaint against Volvo. In issuing the order, the court noted in part that Mr. Levine and Mr. Murphy had represented that they would dismiss their November 2019 case if they were allowed to intervene in Mr. Middien’s case, which would further judicial economy.

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