The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, Calif., ruled in favor of throwing out a class action lawsuit Thursday against American Honda Motor Co. Automotive News reports that the nationwide lawsuit was against a braking system in some Acura RL vehicles. The appeals court ruled the case should not have been given class action status.
A bad year for large class actions
The 2-1 ruling by the circuit court is the second major blow against class actions in the U.S. in several months. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Wal-Mart in a class action involving alleged gender discrimination.
The Pasadena court ruled that a Los Angeles district court judge ruled in error when he found that California’s stringent consumer protection laws could be applied to a nationwide class of people who had bought or leased Acura RLs with optional Collision Mitigation Braking System. The Acuras in question were purchased between Aug. 17, 2005, and Dec. 16, 2008.
Lawyers for the 2,000 plaintiffs involved in the class action did not respond immediately to comments, notes Reuters. The U.S. branch of Honda offered nothing in reply to the judge’s decision, either. Further proceedings will be handled by Los Angeles district court.
Unmitigated breaks in braking
According to the class action, Collision Mitigation Braking System is intended to protect against life-threatening crashes. It is designed to warn Acura RL drivers via alarm, flashing dash indicators, a tightening of the driver’s shoulder seatbelt and automatic application of the brakes, depending upon the car’s distance from the object detected on radar.
The complaint stated that the braking system sometimes deploys when it should not, or would not respond when it should. Moreover, some claimants stated that the system would disengage during bad weather.
California law does not fit all
Representing the 9th Circuit majority, Judge Ronald Gould wrote that California law could not be applied to the rest of the nation, as consumer protection laws vary greatly. Gould also ruled there were “no common issues of fact” among the drivers involved in the suit.
How Collision Mitigation Braking works