— Fiat Chrysler (FCA US) says a Chrysler Pacifica class-action lawsuit should be dismissed because the plaintiffs have no solid arguments to suggest Chrysler knew about alleged engine stall defects.
The plaintiffs claim 2017-2018 Chrysler Pacifica minivans have defects that cause the engines to stall while driving, making travel on the roads a dangerous endeavor.
Plaintiffs Ryan and Sarah Wildin purchased a new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica in 2016 and took the minivan to a dealer after the engine allegedly stalled with 44,300 on the odometer. No repairs were made because the technician couldn't replicate the problem.
The plaintiffs claim it felt like the clutch was going out as the minivan stalled while driving more than 65 mph. However, the dealer said nothing could be done because the vehicle showed no diagnostic trouble codes and technicians couldn't duplicate the stalling issues.
Dealers have allegedly been unable to help minivan owners even with the minivans under warranty, and the plaintiffs claim the automaker must have known about the problems because of owner complaints and internal data.
Chrysler told the judge the proposed class-action lawsuit should be dismissed because the plaintiffs never allege any facts that prove the automaker was aware of the alleged stalling defect when the plaintiffs purchased their vehicle.
According to the lawsuit, the automaker must have known about alleged stalling problems through internal testing, dealers who reported attempted repairs and replacement part data. However, the automaker told the judge courts have held such knowledge is speculative only and doesn't prove presale knowledge.
Additionally, FCA argues the lawsuit references no specific tests, data or specific information that was available to FCA before the plaintiffs purchased their vehicle.
Although the lawsuit references technical service bulletins (TSBs) the automaker sent to dealers, Chrysler says the TSBs have nothing to do with this case.
According to Chrysler, the bulletins predate the purchase of the Pacifica and refer only to engine malfunction warning lights and not stalling engines. In short, Chrysler says the plaintiffs can't use this argument to suggest the automaker knew about alleged problems that caused an engine to stall.
The plaintiffs point to customer complaints as proof FCA knew about the problem because “[m]ore than 50 individuals have reported to NHTSA that their 2017 Chrysler Pacifica has lost all motive power without warning…at varying speeds, from while the vehicle has been sitting idle to traveling at 40 mph on municipal roads, to 60 miles per hour while driving in a tunnel.”
The lawsuit goes on to quote 17 complaints sent to NHTSA, but Chrysler says all of these complaints are dated after the plaintiffs purchased their Pacifica in September 2016. In addition, FCA says complaints received after the time of sale give no indication whether the automaker was aware of the alleged defect at the time of sale.
According to FCA, the plaintiffs allege only one complaint from the same timeframe that the plaintiffs purchased their minivan, but the argument should be rejected because the Ninth Circuit has ruled that “awareness of a few customer complaints … does not establish knowledge of an alleged defect.”
The automaker also argues a claim for unjust enrichment fails because there is already a warranty that defines the rights between FCA and minivan owners, and the warranty fully states who is financially responsible for the cost of repairing defects.
The Chrysler Pacifica engine stall lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California - Ryan and Sarah Wildin, et al., v. FCA US, LLC.
The plaintiffs are represented by Capstone Law APC.