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American Honda: Court Grants Class Certification in ‘HFL Defect’ Lawsuit

On March 23, 2021, a District Judge in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California granted Plaintiffs’ Motion for Class Certification in an action against American Honda Motors, Inc. (“Honda”), denying Honda’s Motion to Strike Expert Testimony in the process.

In 2016, Plaintiffs filed a lawsuit alleging that Honda failed to disclose a defect in the “hands free” calling system, HandsFreeLink™ (“HFL”), featured in the 2004 to 2008 Acura TL models, 2005 to 2008 Acura MDX models, and 2007 to 2009 Acura RDX models. More specifically, the lawsuit alleges that the HFL system regularly fails to switch off when not in use, even when the car’s ignition is turned off. As a result, these vehicles suffer “parasitic electrical drain,” leading to premature battery death and failure in other electrical components.

Plaintiffs allege that because a compromised vehicle battery may fail to start at any time, including during an emergency, and because critical vehicle components, such as headlights, may fail during operation, the defect creates a safety hazard. If Plaintiffs had known about this defect, they would not have bought the vehicle or would have paid less for it.

Plaintiffs moved to certify California, Kansas, New York, and Washington classes. In support of their Motion for Class Certification, Plaintiffs included the opinions of multiple experts regarding the causes and effects of the defect, its materiality to consumers, and class-wide calculation of damages. Honda opposed the motion on four main grounds, arguing that: (1) Plaintiffs did not suffer injury and thus did not have standing to sue, (2) Plaintiffs’ claims lacked sufficient commonality and predominance for class action treatment, (3) Plaintiffs’ claims were not typical of the class and thus Plaintiffs would not be adequate class representatives, and (4) the claims were not properly manageable as a class action. The thrust of Honda’s argument was that the HFL defect is unique to class members with different Acura makes and models, so there cannot be a single class-wide resolution.

The District Court swiftly denied all of Honda’s challenges and ruled that Plaintiffs had met the requisite burden for class certification, granting certification for the California, Kansas, New York, and Washington classes in its order on March 23, 2021.

Plaintiffs are represented by Miller Shah LLP. Updates will be posted to this blog as the matter progresses. The Case caption for the lawsuit is Lindsay Aberin et al v. American Honda Motor Co., Inc., Case No. 4:16-cv-04384, filed in the Northern District of California.

The legal team at Miller Shah LLP has significant experience representing class action matters. If you have any questions regarding this subject or this post, please contact Kolin Tang (kctang@millershah.com) or Alec Berin (ajberin@millershah.com). The firm can also be reached toll-free at (866) 540-5505.

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