February 7, 2011
The number of recalls is increasing – Ford is recalling the 2011 Ford Explorer and 281,000 F-150 trucks, Suzuki’s Grand Vitara may have defective engines, Lexus had a recent recall, and the list continues to grow. Articles should discuss interesting issues, which are often raised by recalls, rather than simply posting every new recall.
Therefore, to better keep track of new vehicle and legal developments, Law Office of Bryan Brody has created a Facebook page!
January 26, 2011
Toyota, which owns Lexus, has announced a recall of 245,000 vehicles, including 2006-07 GS 300 and GS 350, 2006-09 IS 250, and 2006-08 IS 350. The problem is the “insufficient tightening of the fuel pressure sensor.” For most of the 245,000 vehicles, this is probably not a serious enough concern for a recall, and no accidents have been reported yet.
However, fuel could leak into the engine compartment. This is not just messy, but may constitute a significant safety hazard if the fuel ignited, for example, in a collision.
Furthermore, this appears to be a good sign that Toyota is taking seriously its obligation to consumers to alert them to known problems. There is often nothing more frustrating for consumers who, after several failed repair attempts, learn about a Technical Service Bulletin or Recall that directly relates to the vehicle’s problem. This is also often very good evidence that manufacturer knew, or should have known, about the problem, thus making more than a single repair an unreasonable number of attempts.
November 2, 2010
First came news of a massive Toyota recall for unintended acceleration, then came reports that perhaps few if any of the vehicles actually had verifiable problems.
Now, however, an article alleges that Toyota was secretly repurchasing vehicles that demonstrated unintended acceleration. The consumer would then sign a confidentiality agreement, allowing Toyota to mislead the entire public about the lack of acceleration problems.
Toyota claims that sometimes they would repurchase the vehicles to be able to test them. Toyota continues to claim, as well, that the problem are overwhelmingly user error or nonexistent.
Yet, with a recall covering tens of millions of vehicles and a $16.4 million fine, it seems more plausible that some vehicles must have had problems. While a repurchase does not prove the vehicle had a defect, it does show that the consumer had legal evidence that encouraged Toyota to resolve the claim. Part of Toyota’s problem has been trying to cover up defects rather than address them. At a minimum, plaintiffs and consumers should be entitled to explore the evidence in those repurchased vehicles.
October 4, 2010
No manufacturer is immune from the possibility of a defect affecting its vehicles. BMW and Rolls-Royce have announced a recall of 198,000 vehicles, covering years 2002-2010.
The company says “a leak may develop in the power braking system, potentially causing a vacuum loss and consequent reduction of power braking assistance.” Though mechanical braking is available, the difference between the expected of performance of these vehicles’ normal braking and those with the leak could result in problems for drivers.
The affected vehicles incluce the BMW 5-, 6-, and 7-series, and the Rolls-Royce Phantom, which has a sticker price of between $380,000 and $450,000. Even expensive vehicles can exhibit manufacter defects.
October 3, 2010
Hyundai has announced a recall of the new 2011 Sonata, affecting approximately 139,500 vehicles. To put that number in perspective, Hyundai sold approximately 22,000 Sonatas in August 2010.
Hyundai has said a manufacturing defect could lead to a loss of steerring control. The fact it was a manufacturing defect is significant, in that there is no dispute that this was Hyundai’s fault, and should be covered under warranty, not a result of misuse of the vehicle.
Of course, the NHTSA had been investigating since August, before Hyundai announced in late September the voluntary recall. While no related injuries have been reported, it is unclear how many complaints or warranty repairs have been attempted, or refused, to this point.
August 12, 2010
Headlines are suggesting that the recall of millions of vehicles for unintended acceleration by Toyota may have been the result of “user error.” Yet, these articles actually explain that problems were found. Preliminary results did show pedals getting stuck behind floor mats and pedals getting stuck. While no widespeard electronic problem was found, that does not absolve Toyota of responsibility. Sticky pedals pose a serious safety risk, one which Toyota engineers knew of long ago. It is also reasonable for a consumer to expect that the pedals of a car would not get stuck because of floor mats, especially when Toyota designs and markets them to consumers. Some reported problems may have been caused by “driver error,” but it also appears that many incidents would not have happened but for Toyota’s inability to create a safe product. Investigation is still ongoing.
August 11, 2010
Not to be left out, Honda has announced a recall of its own, for the 2003 Honda Accord and the 2003-2004 Honda Element. Interesting, Honda has already had 2 recalls for the same problem, back in 2003 and 2005. Even if a 2003 vehicle no longer has a warranty, a recall means Honda should fix the problem without any out-of-pocket costs to the consumer.
April 18, 2010
Toyota has announced yet another recall, this time for the Sienna minivans. Initial reports suggested 600,000 minivans were affected, but that number may be closer to 870,000. Rust could cause the spare tire to brake loose and come off a vehicle. There does not yet appear to be a fix for the problem, though it remains Toyota’s responsibility to correct the potential nonconformity.
April 13, 2010
Toyota has again had to ask dealers to cease sale of one of its vehicles. The Lexus GX 460 is at an increased risk for rollovers during turns, according to tests performed by Consumer Reports. No reports of injuries or deaths have been reported so far.
If a person is injured because of a defect, often an attorney will bring a product liability lawsuit. In that kind of case, a consumer can allege a design defect or manufacturing defect without any previous symptoms. A typical lemon law case, however, tends to focus on the unreasonable repair history.
In a product liability lawsuit, the damages award is often to compensate a victim for injuries suffered because of the design defect of manufacturing defect, and for non-economic damages, often called pain and suffering damages. A lemon law case rarely involves injuries, though repeat repair attempts could create a safety hazard.
It is possible for an vehicle incident to be both a lemon law case and a product liability case. For example, there may have already been an unreasonable number of repair attempts and the ongoing problem with the vehicle resulted in injuries.
Bringing a lemon law case has some advantages. First, if a consumer prevails, the consumer can be awarded attorney’s fees. Second, a lemon law case can measure damages in two ways: the loss of value of the vehicle, and consequential damages, like medical bills. Third, proving an unreasonable repair history is often much easier than trying to prove how a manufacturer incorrectly designed or built the vehicle.
As more defects are discovered with vehicles, like the Lexus GX 460, more consumers may realize that the problems match the same symptoms they have been reporting for some time.
March 3, 2010
No car maker is immune from manufacturing defects. In the wake of the massive Toyota recall, more companies are recognizing the necessity of fixing known nonconformities.
GM has announced a recall covering Chevrolet Cobalts sold between 2005 and 2010 and 2007-2010 Pontiac G5s for problems relating to the power-steering.
Chrysler has announced a recall covering 2005-2006 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans for problems relating to the airbag sensors.
Nissan has announced a recall for 2008-2010 model year Titan pickup trucks, Quest minivans and Armada and Infiniti QX56 sport-utility vehicles for problems relating to the brake pedals.
All told, almost 2.2 million vehicles may be affected. Please contact Law Office of Bryan Brody if your vehicle has had repeat repair attempts for these nonconformities.