Automotive Class Actions

MLG’s team of trial lawyers is responsible for filing some of the most notable class action cases in the automotive industry – cases which have led to Congressional hearings, Department of Justice investigations and billion-dollar settlements.

Our experienced automotive lawyers have a unique understanding of the nation’s motor vehicle laws, and how they play into the automotive recall system. Under federal law, carmakers are required to immediately recall a vehicle once a safety defect is discovered. Unfortunately, however, many manufacturers fail to discharge this duty, putting the public at significant risk.

MLG has sought to hold these manufacturers responsible by filing automotive class actions, demanding compliance with the recall system and seeking punitive damages to prevent future misconduct. Our cases have involved millions of vehicles across multiple manufacturers, and have had a substantial impact on increasing corporate responsibility and promoting public safety.

ZF-TRW AIRBAG CONTROL UNIT

Automakers Kia, Hyundai, and FCA (Fiat-Chrysler) recalled approximately 12.3 million vehicles due to faulty airbag control units (ACU), which posed the risk failing to engage the airbags in the event of a collision. The same defect is also linked to Toyota, Acura, Honda, Mitsubishi, Porsche, and Volkswagen vehicles. On July 15, 2019, MLG’s auto lawyers filed a class action lawsuit against seven auto manufacturers and the ACU manufacturer, ZF TRW Automotive Holdings Corp., relating to this massive recall. The lawsuit, entitled Baldwin v. Kia (Case No. 8:19-cv-01376), was filed in Federal Court.

Under National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regulations, a manufacturer has five days to report a known safety defect. In 2018 NHTSA launched an investigation into the matter, only to find out that ZF-TRW had been having in-depth discussions with manufacturers about the defective ACU since at least 2011.

In April 2019, NHTSA elevated the investigation to an Engineering Analysis and expanded the scope of the investigation to include other manufacturers who had installed the ZF-TRW made ACU in their production vehicles. At its early investigation stages, NHTSA has confirmed that the defective ACU has been linked to at least four deaths; however, NHTSA complaint logs confirm that many more fatalities have been reported to NHTSA that are still under investigation.

GM IGNITION SWITCH FRAUD

In early 2014, General Motors recalled approximately 800,000 vehicles due to faulty ignition switches, which posed the risk of spontaneously shutting off the vehicle’s engine during normal operation. On March 21, 2014, MLG’s auto lawyers filed a class action lawsuit against General Motors relating to this massive recall. The lawsuit, entitled Martin Ponce v. General Motors (Case No. CV14-2161), was filed in Federal Court in Los Angeles.

In February 2014, GM issued a recall of 1.4 million U.S. vehicles that used the faulty part. The ignition switch is prone to shutting off unexpectedly, leaving the driver without power to the car, and cutting off power steering, power brakes and airbags. GM has admitted that the faulty ignition switch has killed numerous consumers.

Under National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regulations, a manufacturer has five days to report a known safety defect. GM has admitted that it waited nearly a decade to recall their defective ignition switches. In September 2015, federal prosecutors imposed a $900 million fine against GM for concealing the deadly defect.

VW Class Action Lawsuit

VOLKSWAGEN EMISSIONS SCANDAL

The Volkswagen emission scandal surfaced in September 2015, when Volkswagen admitted that it had been falsifying emissions data for nearly 500,000 diesel cars sold in the U.S., and that it had instructed its software engineers to develop a sophisticated “defeat device” that would conceal the vehicles’ true emissions levels from regulators.

Days after the emission scandal broke, on September 25, 2015, MLG filed a class action lawsuit against Volkswagen for the diesel emissions cover-up. The case, entitled Gregg Klein v. Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (Case No. 2:15-cv-07570), was filed in Federal Court in Los Angeles and sought to hold Volkswagen responsible for its admitted fraud.

Apple Texting While Driving Class Action Lawsuit

APPLE TEXTING AND DRIVING

On January 17, 2017, MLG’s team of auto lawyers filed a class action lawsuit against Apple Inc., to address the extremely serious problem of texting and driving which endangers the lives of tens of millions of people every day.  The case was filed in state court in Los Angeles, and is entitled Julio Ceja v. Apple, Inc.  (Case No. BC 647057.)

According to the National Safety Council, cell phone usage was responsible for 26% of all car accidents in the United States in 2014, making it the single most dangerous thing one can do while operating an automobile. Apple has long known of the dangers associated with the use of their phones, going to far as to file a patent in 2008 for a “lock-out mechanism” to disable texting while driving. But to date they have done nothing to deploy the “lock-out” technology.  It is time for Apple to step up and use its technology to protect consumers from an epidemic its technology and innovation created.

HYUNDAI AND KIA POWER WINDOW DEFECT

On October 29, 2019, MLG filed a class action lawsuit against Hyundai and Kia, to address the threat to life and limb caused by the power windows in these vehicles. The case was filed in California state court, and is entitled McCready v. Hyundai Motor America (Case No. 30-2019-01108261-CU-MC-CXC).

Federal regulations require power windows systems in all vehicles manufactured after 2008 to have a “stop-and-reverse” safety feature that is intended to prevent fingers and hands from being severed by the powerful motors that close automatic windows.

The class action alleges that Hyundai and Kia vehicles have stop-and-reverse systems, but that the power windows greatly exceed the maximum closing force allowable by federal law. According to the complaint, the force of the power windows is so great that vehicle occupants are at risk of losing fingers or hands, and even their lives by getting heads or necks stuck in the closing power windows.

Uber Class Action Lawsuit

UBER FRAUDULENT BUSINESS PRACTICES

As the company was beginning to build momentum, ride-share sensation Uber was alleged to have made numerous misrepresentations to the public about the safety of its driver background checks. On January 26, 2015, MLG filed a class action lawsuit against Uber for fraudulent business practices. The lawsuit, entitled Jacob Sabatino v. Uber Technologies, Inc. (Case No. 3:15-cv-00363), was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

The lawsuit alleges that Uber made numerous misrepresentations about the safety of its ride-share services, including falsely claiming that it conducts “industry-leading” background checks on its drivers. The lawsuit also claimed that Uber provides no training for its drivers, other than a 13-minute instructional video on how to use the Uber app, and that Uber failed to ensure that vehicle safety inspections were actually conducted by a service facility.

MLG also claimed that Uber violated a litany of regulations promulgated by the California Public Utilities Commission, such as failing to provide training for its drivers and failing to have specific trade-dress for its vehicles. In November 2012, Uber was fined $20,000 by the Public Utilities Commission for functioning “without an operating authority.”

BMW Class Action Lawsuit

BMW i3 RANGE EXTENDER

BMW’s new all electric vehicle, the i3 REx, is alleged to contain a faulty and dangerous “range extender” feature. On May 17, 2016, MLG filed a class action lawsuit against BMW for these defects in the 2014 to 2016 models. The case was filed in Federal Court in Los Angeles, and is entitled Edo Tsoar v. BMW of North America, LLC (Case No. 2:16-cv-03386).

The BMW i3 is BMW’s first zero emissions mass-produced vehicle.  The BMW i3 REx model includes an optional “fuel extender” – a two-cylinder gasoline combustion engine with a small fuel tank that engages when the battery level drops to five percent. BMW advertises that the fuel extender acts as a generator to produce electricity, doubling the mileage range of the vehicle.

BMW failed to advise consumers, however, that when the fuel extender is activated, the vehicle is unable to maintain the power, speed and performance of normal operation. Such a decrease in power is dangerous, not only to drivers and passengers of the vehicle, but to all vehicles in surrounding traffic.  The potentially life-threatening defect affects all 2014 to 2016 BMW i3 REx model vehicles.

Toyota Class Action Lawsuit

TOYOTA SOY-BASED WIRING

In the mid-2000s, Toyota began replacing its plastic wire coverings with a soy-based product. The move was intended to be more environmentally friendly, but it had a very disastrous side effect: the soy materials invited rodents to chew through the insulation, causing severe damage to vehicles’ electrical system. Despite the fact that Toyota is aware of the defect, Toyota routinely refuses to repair the vehicles under warranty, instead passing the cost of the repair onto vehicle owners.

On September 9, 2016, MLG’s team of auto lawyers filed a class action lawsuit against Toyota for the damage that has been caused to millions of Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs that contain this soy-based wiring. The case was filed in federal court in Los Angeles, and is entitled Leslie Cochrane v. Toyota Motor Corporation (Case No. 8:16-cv-01679).

Kia Class Action Lawsuit

KIA FUEL ECONOMY FRAUD

MLG’s team of auto lawyers sought to hold Kia responsible for their false statements regarding Kia’s purported fuel efficiency. On January 9, 2013, MLG filed a class action lawsuit against Kia, alleging the car company misrepresented the gas mileage capabilities of certain 2011-2013 model vehicles. The case was filed in federal court in Orange County, and is entitled Herbert J. Young v. Kia Motors America, Inc. (Case No. cv13-00167.)

Kia Motors engaged in an extensive advertising campaign throughout the United States capitalizing on the trend toward more eco-friendly and fuel-efficient vehicles by telling consumers their cars achieved gas mileage in the range of 40 miles per gallon. Kia later acknowledged it had been lying to regulators and the public and that none of the relevant vehicles actually reached the 40 MPG threshold.

MLG filed a class action alleging Unfair Competition and False Advertising, as well as violations of the Consumer Legal Remedies Act and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, seeking compensation for consumers damaged by Kia’s false claims, and to ensure the automotive giant does not deceive consumers in the future.

Masarati Class Action Lawsuit

MASERATI’S DEFECTIVE LOCKING SYSTEM

Maserati North America, Inc. was faced with a class action filed by MLG for its 2014 to 2016 model year Ghibli vehicles equipped with a defect that allows the key fob to be locked inside the vehicle without a way to unlock it, creating a dangerous situation if a pet or child is locked inside the car. The case was filed on May 19, 2016, in Federal Court in the Central District of California, and is entitled Elsayed v. Maserati North America, Inc.  (Case No. 8:16-cv-00918).

Maserati Ghibli’s Passive Entry System allows drivers to lock and unlock the vehicle’s doors without having to press a button on a key fob. The Passive Entry System, however, contains a serious defect: despite assurances that precautions exist to prevent the inadvertent locking of the keys in the vehicle, instances have occurred where the vehicles’ key fob is located inside the vehicle, and a rear passenger (such as a small child) is able to lock the driver outside of the vehicle, trapping the child inside. Maserati’s production of the Ghibli, a vehicle that will allow