— A woman who says her Volkswagen sunroof exploded is fighting to prove the case should move forward as a class-action lawsuit, while Volkswagen argues the lawsuit should be dismissed.
Plaintiff Rosaura Deras says she was driving her 2013 Volkswagen Jetta in 2017 when the sunroof exploded without warning, raining shards of glass on her head and the inside of the vehicle. Deras claims she thought there had been some type of explosion and saw a large hole in the center of the sunroof glass with the edges pointing upward.
The plaintiff says the glass wasn't hit by rocks or other objects and the fact the edges pointed outward proves it.
According to the lawsuit, Volkswagen refused to fix the shattered sunroof even though the vehicle was allegedly still under warranty.
The plaintiff alleges Volkswagen failed to tell her the sunroof could explode even though the automaker knew about the problems based on customer complaints. In addition, VW recalled Beetle cars in 2014 because the sunroofs could break if the cars hit potholes or other rough surfaces.
According to the lawsuit, the following models are allegedly defective:
- 2005-2017 Volkswagen Jetta
- 2015-2017 Volkswagen Golf
- 2006-2015 Volkswagen GTI
- 2009-2010 Volkswagen CC
- 2007-2016 Volkswagen Eos
- 2006-2009 Volkswagen Rabbit
- 2012-2017 Volkswagen Passat
- 2004-2006 Volkswagen Touareg
- 2011-2017 Volkswagen Touareg
- 2008 Volkswagen R32
- 2009-2017 Volkswagen Tiguan
Volkswagen filed its motion to dismiss by attempting to shoot down each claim, starting with the argument about the Jetta being under warranty. VW says the plaintiff leased the 2013 Jetta when it was new and then decided to purchase it in 2016, making implied warranty claims time-barred.
The plaintiff claims she received a "new" vehicle when she purchased it "used" in 2016, but VW says implied warranties apply only in connections with the sale of new vehicles. Attorneys for Volkswagen also allege the lawsuit doesn't even say where the vehicle was purchased when it was "used."
The motion to dismiss also says the plaintiff is wrong to claim Volkswagen knew about exploding sunroofs before she leased the vehicle. The plaintiff says there have been "57 NHTSA complaints,and other consumer complaints, recalls and other evidence,” and this proves the automaker knew about the exploding sunroofs.
However, Volkswagen says the complaints and "other evidence" carry no weight in a court case, with "57 disparate, unverified hearsay NHTSA complaints, only 12 of which pre-date the lease of Plaintiff’s Jetta, and recalls that are irrelevant to the defect alleged."
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff references a Ninth Circuit ruling in a separate case “that 40-50 complaints were an unusually high number of complaints...” However, VW points out the Ninth Circuit case involved complaints made directly to the defendant, whereas Volkswagen owners made complaints not to the automaker but to the government.
VW alleges other courts have found a far higher number complaints insufficient to allege knowledge of a defect. In one case, more than 365 complaints weren't enough and another court said 350 complaints weren't adequate and in another case.
"Anyone can complain about anything on the NHTSA website; these postings are not corroborated or verified in any way. Plaintiff has offered no support for the proposition that 12 hearsay statements by unknown declarants pulled from a non-party website can adequately plead VWGoA’s [Volkswagen's] knowledge of the alleged defect prior to Plaintiff’s acquisition of the vehicle." - Attorneys for Volkswagen
The sunroof lawsuit also talks about other automakers that have experienced shattered sunroofs, but Volkswagen says other manufacturers’ actions regarding their panoramic sunroofs have nothing to do with a lawsuit about Volkswagen sunroofs.
As for the VW Beetle recall, the automaker alleges the cause of the recall is not related to claims in the lawsuit and therefore should be ignored.
The Volkswagen exploding sunroof lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California - Rosaura Deras, et. al., v. Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.