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On June 12, 2012, a California federal judge struck a blow to Honda, granting class certification to a suit brought by Mr. Mendelsohn alleging the automaker violated warranties and consumer protection laws by knowingly selling Civics that contained a major tire defect. U.S. District Judge Margaret M. Morrow certified two classes of plaintiffs who purchased or leased Civics made between 2006 and 2007 and Civic Hybrids made between 2006 and 2008. The suit alleges the cars have a rear suspension defect that can cause uneven and premature wear on the rear tires and sudden tire failure.

The first class includes plaintiffs who bought or leased Civics in California and allege claims for breach of express and implied warranty. The second class includes plaintiffs who bought or leased Civics in California, New York and Florida, and who assert consumer protection claims under those states’ laws. The judge rejected Honda’s argument that the plaintiffs needed to prove that each vehicle was “substantially certain” tp suffeer premature or uneven tire wear as a result of the alleged design defect, saying she was “aware of no case authority supporting this proposition.” “Indeed, the case law suggests the contrary,” the judge said. The casde law only “mandates only that plaintiffs show there was a defect in the class vehicles that created an ‘unreasonable risk’ of safety problems.”

The decision means Honda now must explain to a jury why it waited until January 2008 to notify customers about the alleged defect when, according to the lawsuit, Honda learned about the defect through various sources, including prerelease testing data and early consumer complaints to Honda and its dealers. Though Honda issued a bulletin to dealers and began covering certain repair costs and providing reimbursement for prematurely worn tires, the plaintiffs allege the automaker moved too late and neglected to include all class vehicles with the alleged rear suspension defect in its bulletin.

For additional information regarding this case, please contact a Honda Class Action Lawyer.