— Alleged fire dangers from overheating daytime running lights and headlight switches in Suzuki Forenza and Reno cars won't see the light of day in court after a federal judge dismissed a class-action lawsuit filed in Oklahoma. The plaintiff had filed the lawsuit after he allegedly experienced a fire in his 2007 Suzuki Forenza.
Jason Dinwiddie claims his Forenza starting giving him headlight problems in July 2014, primarily by taking up to 40 minutes to shut down after Dinwiddie turned off the lights.
By August, the vehicle had smoke coming from the dashboard and instrument panel area which turned into a fire. Dinwiddie says Suzuki told him his auto insurance would need to cover the repairs even though the Forenza was under warranty. However, the insurance company said the fire was caused by negligence on the part of Suzuki.
The lawsuit alleges Suzuki has known since 2007 the cars are a fire hazard, which is why in May 2014, the automaker recalled over 184,000 model year 2004-2008 Forenza and 2005-2008 Reno vehicles. That recall indicated the fire hazard is caused by problems with overheating headlight switches and daytime running light modules.
However, although the recall was issued in May 2014, the lawsuit claims owners weren't notified about it until July 2014.
A federal judge in Oklahoma dismissed the Suzuki lawsuit for reasons that sound similar to lawsuits that had to be dropped against General Motors. In the case of GM, a federal judge ruled that a bankruptcy agreement protected GM from lawsuits for many problems that occurred prior to the bankruptcy. The judge in the Suzuki lawsuit said much the same thing about the Forenza and Reno case.
In 2012, American Suzuki Motor Corporation filed for bankruptcy and stopped selling cars in the U.S., however, Suzuki continued selling ATVs and motorcycles. The judge in the Dinwiddie case agreed with Suzuki that it wasn't responsible for certain actions made by American Suzuki Motor Corp.
Because Suzuki did order a recall in May 2014, the judge said that action was good enough to keep the case out of court.
The Suzuki daytime running lights/headlight switch lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma - Jason Dinwiddie, et al. v. Suzuki Motor of America, Inc.
The plaintiff is represented by Sonne Law Firm, PLC.