News, Class Actions

Class certification granted in Honda “hands free” battery–drain litigation

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Judge Jon S. Tigar of the United States District Court, Northern District of California, issued an order yesterday granting class certification in Lindsay Aberin, et al., v. American Honda Motor Company, Inc., which alleges that Honda failed to disclose a defect in its “HandsFreeLink” Bluetooth calling system, offered in Acura vehicles.

“Now that this case is certified as a class action, we are one step closer to compensating Acura owners for their purchase of cars with a known defect—for which they each paid thousands of dollars more than they should have. We look forward to getting this case to trial,” said Seeger Weiss LLP cofounder Christopher A. Seeger, who was appointed class counsel—along with James E. Cecchi of Carella, Byrne, Cecchi, Olstein, Brody & Angello, P.C.—in Judge Tigar’s order.

Starting with the 2004 Acura TL, Honda began to rollout a new feature in select Acura vehicles: a “HandsFreeLink” (HFL) Bluetooth pairing device that made it possible for drivers to place and receive hands-free cell phone calls. Honda adopted this technology early and heavily marketed the HFL system in its Acura ad campaigns. Many consumers were drawn to new Acura vehicles precisely for this functionality.

Plaintiffs allege that the HFL system is defective: failing to switch off when not in use—sometimes even after the car’s ignition is turned off. When the HFL system does not turn off when it should, it causes significant electrical drain, resulting in prematurely dead batteries as well as failed electrical components. This has left many Acura drivers with cars that don’t reliably start, that require frequent and expensive replacements of batteries and other electrical components, and may ultimately lose power while being driven.

According to plaintiffs, Honda knew about this dangerous defect but did nothing to alert current or potential Acura drivers about it. They also did not take action to remedy it.  Since 2005, Honda has issued five total internal Technical Service Bulletins to its dealers that describe this defect, but which offer no meaningful solution, warranty protection, or recall. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has also received complaints about the HFL defect as well as the cascading hazards it presents.

“This is why we work so hard for our clients, to get justice for as many consumers as we can. With this certified class of Acura purchasers, we can hold Honda truly accountable for a defect it knew about, but for which it took little to no responsibility,” said Seeger Weiss counsel Scott Alan George, who has worked on this case from the outset.

Lindsay Aberin, et al., v. American Honda Motor Company, Inc. seeks damages that calculate the accelerated depreciation of each vehicle over its economic lifespan—up to $2,100 per car and, if applied nationwide, over $1.1 billion in total. The case is pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

One of the nation’s preeminent plaintiffs’ law firms, Seeger Weiss is best known for multidistrict mass torts and class actions in both state and federal court. From offices in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, the firm has represented over 10,000 individuals, companies, and governments across the U.S. who have been injured or defrauded on a massive scale. Since its founding in 1999, it has led many of the most complex and high-profile cases in the country: the National Prescription Opiate Litigation, which the Washington Post called “the largest federal court case in U.S. history”; 3M Combat Arms Earplug Products Liability Litigation, which the Minneapolis Star Tribune called “one of the largest mass torts ever”; the ongoing “Dieselgate” scandal; the sprawling multistate litigation on behalf of survivors of child sexual abuse; and the history-making Football League Players’ Concussion Injury Litigation.

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Since its establishment in 1999, Seeger Weiss has led some of the most complex and high-profile litigations in the U.S.