By Pamela C. Maloney, J.D.
Nissan North America, Inc. has reached a settlement that resolves allegations set forth in three separate putative class actions alleging that the automaker concealed from consumers the fact that model year 2005-2010 Pathfinder, Xterra and Frontier SUVs were equipped with defective radiators. The settlement now awaits approval by a federal district court in Florida. As part of the settlement, Nissan has agreed to extend the time and duration of the limited warranty on the affected vehicles. The automaker also agreed to pay attorney fees and costs, as ordered by the court, up to $3,750,000 (Batista v. Nissan North America, Inc., October 11, 2016).
Underlying complaints. In three separate class action complaints, owners of these vehicles alleged that they contained a defect which permitted cross-contamination of engine coolant and transmission fluid, ultimately causing the radiator and transmission to need substantial repairs or fail entirely (see Batista v. Nissan North America, Inc.; Torres v. Nissan North America, Inc., which was removed from the Los Angeles County Superior Court to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Case No. 2:15-cv-03251-RGK-FFM; and Nguyen v. Nissan North America, Inc., Middle District of Tennessee, Case No. 3:16-cv-00624).
All of the complaints set forth counts based on Nissan’s breach of express and implied warranties, violations of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, and Nissan’s deceptive trade practices in violation of state consumer protection laws. The putative classes sought damages, injunctive and declaratory relief, restitution, disgorgement of profits, attorney fees and costs, punitive damages, and the repair of, replacement of, or refund of money paid to owners or lessees of all affected vehicles.
Terms of settlement. As part of the settlement, Nissan agreed to extend the time and mileage durational limits for powertrain coverage under the new vehicle warranty to the extent it applies to the transmission assembly (including the valve and torque converter) for the affected vehicles. The extension is for a period of 24 months or 24,000 miles, whichever occurs first. The warranty extension remains subject to the same terms and conditions of the original warranty. In addition to attorney fees, Nissan also agreed to make an incentive payment of $5,000 to each class representative. The class representatives in the California and Tennessee actions have agreed to notify those courts of the settlement and to take no further action to pursue them.
The settlement is limited to repair of the radiators and does not extend to claims for personal injury, wrongful death or physical damage to property other than to an affected vehicle or its component parts. Also excluded from the settlement are future transmission claims.
The case is No. 1:14-CV-24728-RNS.
Companies: Nissan North America Inc.
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