Subaru named in class action lawsuit for defect in pistons, engine management system and positive crankcase ventilation in 2009-2014 Impreza WRX vehicles

 

This is a class action on behalf of owners of 2009-2014 Impreza WRX vehicles (“class vehivcles.” Subaru introduced the class engines in the United States market in late 2007 for the 2008 model year. Class engines are predisposed to premature engine failure. Class vehicles are defective with respect to improperly designed and manufactured pistons and an engine management system and PCV (positive crankcase ventilation) system that subjects class engines engine to premature catastrophic engine piston ringlands failure (the “Piston Ringlands Defect”).

WRX and WRX STi engines are high performance versions of the 2.5 liter displacement EJ series engines used in other model Subaru vehicles including but not limited to the Forrester, Legacy and Outback. These performance modifications nearly doubled the horsepower for WRX and WRX STi engines over the standard base 2.5 liter engine. These performance modifications that created substantially increased power output did not include necessary internal engine modifications to prevent damage to the piston ringlands.

Inadequate class engine piston ringland durability was caused by casting the class engine pistons from hypereutectic aluminum silicon (Al-Si) alloy. While this alloy has some strength attributes over conventional cast aluminum pistons, Al-Si pistons and in particular piston ringland are more brittle. This Al-Si materials selection and cast construction method resulted in insufficient strength pistons in class engines.

Another contributing cause to class engine failure was an inadequate PCV system that allowed excessive engine crankcase oil vapors to be introduced into the engine combustion chambers thereby lowering the overall fuel/air octane mixture. This causes increased combustion forces acting on the piston through a phenomenon know as detonation. Detonation is a well-known cause of internal engine component damage particularly including piston and piston ringland failure.

Failure of class engines due to the Piston Ringland Defect results in sudden power loss and/or stalling that severely compromises the owner’s ability to maintain vehicle control. The defective class engine components and engine management system also causes sudden an catastrophic engine self-destruction as overheated internal parts seize.

The failures in the class engines due to the Piston Ringland Defect pose a serious safety issue while the vehicle is being operated since there is loss of engine power without warning and the loss of power-assisted steering and reduced braking caused by lack of engine vacuum if the engine stalls. In class vehicles equipped with manual transmissions, the drive wheels will lock and cause loss of directional stability and steering if the engine stalls and the clutch is not immediately disengaged.

Nissan named in class action lawsuit over defective continuously variable automatic transmissions in Altima vehicles

A class action complaint was filed on behalf of owners of Model Year 2013–2014 Nissan Altima vehicles (“Subject Vehicles”) which allegedly contain defective continuously variable automatic transmissions (“CVT”) that cause shuddering, hesitation, stalling, unusual noises, and ultimately, premature transmission failure. The CVTs pose a significant safety risk. When the shuddering occurs, momentum of the Subject Vehicle is suddenly lost, the rate of speed drops or the vehicle stalls, and the brake lights do not illuminate. The defect is especially dangerous because it manifests when the driver presses the accelerator. Just when the driver attempts to accelerate, nothing occurs. This is sometimes followed by an unexpected surge of power. The CVTs increase the risk that the driver will lose control and cause a collision.

When owners of Subject Vehicles seek repair of their defective transmissions, they are routinely informed that the transmission requires replacement, at a cost upwards of $3,000. With the replacement, the vehicles are then equipped with another defective CVT, and the cycle repeats.

According to the complaint, Nissan knew the CVTs were defective in this way, were prone to shuddering, hesitation, stalling, unusual noises, and eventual premature failure yet failed to disclose these material facts to Plaintiff and other Class members. Nissan misrepresented the safety risk the Subject Vehicles pose to occupants and the public. Nissan knowingly engaged in omissions of material facts and false and misleading representations regarding the performance of CVTs in the Subject Vehicles.

As a result of Nissan’s unfair, deceptive, and fraudulent conduct, Plaintiff and the other Class members received a car worth less than as represented and less than what they paid for when purchasing their Subject Vehicles.

COMPLAINT

Hyundai named in class action lawsuit over defect in powertrain

 

Plaintiff brings this action individually and on behalf of all similarly situated persons in the United States who purchased or leased 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe vehicles that were designed, manufactured, distributed, marketed, sold and leased by Defendant Hyundai Motor America.

According to the complaint, beginning in 2016, if not before, Defendant knew that the Class Vehicles contain one or more defects that cause, among other problems, significantly delayed acceleration, loss of power, or rough shifting (“Powertrain Defect”). The Powertrain Defect has been documented to occur without warning during vehicle operation and poses an extreme and unreasonable safety hazard to drivers, passengers and pedestrians. Numerous Class Vehicle owners have reported a significant delay in the Class Vehicle’s response while attempting to accelerate from a stop and/or while cruising in situations that require the ability to accelerate rapidly (e.g., merging on to the highway, changing lanes, etc.). Other Class Vehicle owners have reported jerking, lurching, and/or engine revving associated with the delayed acceleration.

COMPLAINT

Nestle named in class action lawsuit over use of No GMO Ingredients™ seal

A class action lawsuit was filed against Nestle USA, Inc  for misleading consumers about its products that bear a “No GMO Ingredients ™” certificate of approval on the packaging  that appears to be that of an independent third-party, when, it in fact, is not.

Recognizing the value of independent certification in the marketplace, the Federal Trade Commission has warned companies against representations involving independent certification because they are misleading to consumers and has issued guidelines for companies to follow in order not to deceive. “It is deceptive to misrepresent, directly or by implication, that a product, package, or service has been endorsed or certified by an independent third party. 16 C.F.R. §260.6

As alleged in the complaint, in violation of these principles, Defendant has represented to consumers that several of the products it sells have been certified by an independent third party as not containing GMO ingredients, by affixing a No GMO Ingredients TM seal on the Products. According to the complaint, these representations by Defendant are false and the No GMO Ingredients ™ seal of approval is not the product of a neutral, third party, but instead the work of Defendant itself.

COMPLAINT

 

 

ZEP Inc named in employment class action for failure to pay proper wages and commissions to outside sales representatives

 

This is a class, collective, and representative action brought by Plaintiffs, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated. Plaintiffs and those similarly situated are or were employed by Defendants as Employees and Outside Salespersons and were denied proper compensation as required by state and federal law.

The Class consists of every person who has worked for Defendants in California and the United States as an Outside Sales Representative within four years of the filing of this action (the “Class Period”).

During the Class Period, Defendants failed to pay wages/commissions to Plaintiffs and each member of the putative classes as required by federal and state law. Further, the Defendants have engaged in an unlawful policy and practice of taking accounts and commissions obtained by salespersons in violation of both the written contract that all salespersons signed and applicable law.

As alleged, ZEP has a history of engaging in unlawful conduct with regard to its outside salespersons. At the time these accounts were obtained, each representative was never informed that the accounts or the commissions generated from these accounts could be taken from them unilaterally by Defendants. In fact, Plaintiffs and the current and former employees they seek to represent were informed in writing that such commissions would be earned when payment was made by the customer.

The representatives were also promised in writing that any changes to any commission program could only be applied “prospectively”. In other words, any new accounts obtained after a modification to the agreement could be made, but any new commission plan would not be effective retroactively, i.e., to accounts that had been obtained prior to any modification of the plan.

According to the complaint, in direct contradiction with those written promises, beginning in approximately 2017, ZEP began unilaterally and surreptitiously taking accounts/commissions obtained by their outside salespersons. Effective April 1, 2018, ZEP placed a policy in writing in which it acknowledged that it would began taking accounts/commissions from these sales persons.

COMPLAINT

Volvo named in class action lawsuit over failure of electric motor to perform as promised in XC90 T8 sport utility vehicles

 

Volvo manufacturers and sells premium automobiles, including sports utility vehicles. Volvo markets its environmental and safety features to differentiate Volvo cars from those of other car manufacturers, and offers those features as reasons for consumers to purchase Volvo cars.

Among its product offerings, Volvo sells the XC90 T8 (“T8”), which is a seven passenger sport utility vehicle that contains a twin engine combining a gasoline engine with an electric motor, and has the ability to operate solely on the electric motor. In various press releases, brochures and product placements with trade publications, as set forth in more detail below, Volvo repeatedly represented in 2014 and 2015 that the T8 would have the capability to be driven solely on a battery charge for approximately 25 miles, which Volvo claimed would cover the average commute and daily errands for most people.

As alleged, the T8 does not come close to achieving 25 miles on a full electric charge. Rather, the T8 provides approximately 8 to 10 miles on a full electric charge—a far cry from the 25 miles promised by Volvo. And while Volvo now apparently claims that the range on the T8 is 17 miles, the only apparent method to even come close to the 17-mile range is to drive the T8 at 40 miles an hour on the highway—with all the safety features disabled.

Plaintiff and others paid a hefty premium for the T8’s electric motor. The seven-passenger Volvo XC90 T6, which does not contain the electric motor, starts at $49,800. By contrast, the seven-passenger T8, with the electric motor, starts at $68,100. All the other base features on the T6 and T8 are identical. Thus, Volvo is receiving, and Plaintiff paid, an $18,300 price premium for the electric motor—an electric motor that does not perform as promised.

Plaintiff brings this case on behalf of the following class: All individuals who purchased or leased a Volvo XC90 T8. Plaintiff asserts claims for violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act and similar consumer fraud statutes of other states, fraud, breach of express warranty, and unjust enrichment. Plaintiff seeks to recover the damages he has suffered as the result of Volvo’s conduct.

COMPLAINT

Hyundai named in class action lawsuit over defective engines

 

This consumer class action arises from defective Theta II engines found in hundreds of thousands of Hyundai and Kia vehicles in the United States.

As alleged, the Theta II engine’s fuel injection system causes contaminants to enter the engine’s oil supply. Initial symptoms of the Defect include a knocking noise from the engine, a reduction in engine power, and engine stalling events (the “Defect”). When the level of contaminants in the oil supply sufficiently thicken the Theta II engine’s oil supply, the engine fails, leading to an immediate loss of engine power and power steering. The Defect thus creates a safety hazard for not only the vehicle’s occupants but the occupants of nearby vehicles. Countless consumer complaints to Hyundai, Kia and traffic safety authorities detail the safety risks and economic burdens of vehicles prone to total and unexpected engine failure.

The only remedy for the Defect is replacing the engine with another defective Theta II engine. Though the Defect is covered by Defendants’ written 10-year, 100,000 mile powertrain warranties, Defendants routinely deny warranty coverage to engines consumed by the Defect by blaming the engine-killing oil sludge on inadequate maintenance or the use of aftermarket oil filters.

Between 2015 and 2017, Defendants recalled 1.5 million vehicles with Theta II engines in North America. Each recall addressed knocking noises, engine stalls, and sudden engine failures. Though the recalls cover Theta II engines manufactured over a five-year period in at least two continents, in each instance, Defendants attributed the recall to the same underlying cause: leftover metal debris in the engine from the manufacturing process.

Reports suggest that in 2016, a Hyundai engineer informed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) that Defendants have long been aware that the Theta II engines possess a design flaw affecting all Theta II engines. These reports are consistent with the experience of Plaintiff and countless other owners and lessees of vehicles with defective Theta II engines that have not been recalled (the “Class Vehicles”). Non-recalled Theta II engines are failing because of the Defect in numbers that in some cases exceed the failure rates of recalled vehicles.

This case seeks protection and relief for owners of the Class Vehicles for the harm they have suffered, and the safety risks they face, from Defendants’ unfair, unlawful, and deceptive trade practices.

COMPLAINT

General Mills and Small Planet Foods named in class action for false advertising

This case concerns Defendants’ false and deceptive marketing and sale of Cascadian Farm brand frozen fruits and vegetables. Defendants’ identical misrepresentations mislead consumers into believing that all of their frozen fruit and vegetable products are grown on an organic farm in Skagit Valley, a small region in the state of Washington along the Skagit River in the Cascade mountains. In truth, Defendants’ frozen fruit and vegetables are not grown on a farm in the Cascades mountain range and/or in the Skagit Valley region. Rather, because Defendants are multinational agro-businesses, the fruit and vegetables used in their frozen products are sourced from all over the United States and the world.

COMPLAINT

That’s It Nutrition, LLC named in class action lawsuit alleging false advertising

 

That’s It Nutrition, LLC manufactures and sells snack food products under the brand “That’s it.” The Products consist of (1) fruit bars, (2) fruit bars with added spicy ingredients, (3) chocolate-covered fruit pieces (4) vegetable bars. The products labeling claim: “No Purees or Juices,” “No Sulfur or Sulfites,” “No Sugar Added,” “No Preservatives,” the “2 ingredient snack,” “Just Fruit” and “Fruit is all we use.” According to the complaint, the labeling conveys that the defendant was responsible for taking the whole intact fruit, washing it, dicing or chopping it, then mashing it together to form the final bar, so that the product can credibly attest that it contains ingredients identified by a collective name.

 

As alleged, by listing ingredients with a collective name, a reasonable consumer gets the impression that the raw material existed in its whole, intact form, which means the products are necessarily fresher because its component ingredients were not made years ago and sat on a warehouse shelf until the time they were used in the products. It is misleading, however, to list ingredients with a collective name because consumers are unable to distinguish the value, quality and nature of the actual ingredients prior to purchase.

 

The complaint claims the labeling is misleading because That’s It does not convert whole, intact fruits or vegetables into the final product. Rather, the Products contain ingredients which have already been subjected to various levels of processing and transformation such that designating them by their collective name is misleading.  The Complaint contends that rather than containing fruit, the bars are made from a highly processed fruit powder.

Starkist Co named in class action lawsuit over misleading consuming public over healthfulness of tuna

 

StarKist is one of the largest producers of seafood products in the United States. As alleged, StarKist’s products contain a mislabeling representations that causes consumers to falsely believe that StarKist products are healthier than products made by other food manufacturers. Specifically, StarKist prominently displays the American Heart Association

“Heart-Check Mark” on products. The complaint contends that reasonable consumers see the Heart-Check Mark and would mistakenly believe that a product with a Heart-Check Mark is healthier than a product without a Heart-Check Mark. In truth, however, the Heart-Check Mark is nothing more than a paid endorsement which Starkist fails to inform the consuming public.

COMPLAINT