— An Acura HandsFreeLink class-action lawsuit is still connected as the judge refused to dismiss the entire complaint.
The class-action alleges Honda wanted to beat competitors to the punch by creating a hands-free feature that allowed customers to use Bluetooth wireless technology, hence the beginning of HandsFreeLink in 2004 Acura models. The plaintiffs admit Acura did get the feature to the public, but the automaker allegedly failed to create a system that switched off when not in use.
The HandsFreeLink systems are allegedly left activated when drivers remove the ignition keys, causing a "constant and substantial parasitic electric drain on the electric system."
The plaintiffs claim owners get stuck with dead batteries, failed alternators and the added expense of constantly replacing the batteries. The plaintiffs also claim cars equipped with HandsFreeLink systems are less valuable than other vehicles that have working hands-free systems.
Replacing a defective system can cost more than $1,000 and there is allegedly no way to guarantee the replacement system won't also drain the battery. The lawsuit says even though customers pay for the systems, some owners choose to make the systems worthless by disabling the HandsFreeLink systems to protect the batteries and other components.
According to the plaintiffs, Honda/Acura has known about the problems since 2005, but in place of offering real solutions, Honda chose to send allegedly useless technical service bulletins to dealers. Those bulletins let dealers know about customer complaints but allegedly didn't contain correct methods to repair the problems.
Plaintiff Lindsay Aberin says she bought a new 2005 Acura TL equipped with HandsFreeLink in January 2005, a car she still owns. The plaintiff says she took the car to an Acura dealer in February 2008 seeking repairs of the HandsFreeLink system.
The dealer replaced the battery under warranty, but the plaintiff says the problem reappeared two years later and the fog lights were replaced. This was allegedly followed by another dealer visit another two years later and the battery was again replaced.
In November 2013, Aberin took the Acura to a dealer again because of HandsFreeLink problems and this time the driver-side headlight inverter and ignitor were replaced.
The plaintiff says she had to take the Acura to a dealer in November 2013 because of more problems with the hands-free system and the dealer replaced a headlight bulb and front marker bulb.
Two months later the car was back at the dealer because of system problems and the passenger-side headlight ignitor was replaced, followed by another dealer visit more than a year later when the starter was allegedly replaced.
According to the plaintiff, she took the Acura to the dealer multiple more times as more parts were replaced. Aberin says she had no clue the HandsFreeLink system was allegedly causing all the problems and trips to the dealer.
In 2016 the plaintiff allegedly disabled the system permanently, all because Honda never admitted there were problems with the system and never fixed the problems even after repeated attempts.
Honda has succeeded in getting multiple claims dismissed in the past and its most recent motion to dismiss is no different. The judge ruled certain warranty and consumer protection claims don't hold water because the affected plaintiffs waited too long to file those claims.
Express warranty claims were also tossed because the warranties don't cover the design defects alleged in the class-action lawsuit. However, the judge said the plaintiffs presented enough evidence to allege the automaker concealed possible defects in the Acura cars.
Included in the class-action lawsuit are all Acura vehicles equipped with HandsFreeLink units with the alleged defects.
The Acura HandsFreeLink lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California - Aberin, et al., v. American Honda Motor Company, Inc.
The plaintiffs are represented by Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, Seeger Weiss, Carella, Byrne, Cecchi, Olstein, Brody & Agnello, P.C. and Baron & Budd, P.C.