Volkswagen, Plaintiffs Reach Settlement in Sunroof Case

Plaintiffs alleging defective sunroofs in a number of Volkswagen and Audi models have reached a settlement with the vehicle manufacturer.

The plaintiffs brought the suit against Volkswagen Group of America and Volkswagen AG, filing multiple amended complaints since the first complaint was filed in late December 2019. According to the complaint, the VW sunroofs “suffer from defects such that they are prone to leak water into the interior of the vehicle.” The plaintiffs argue that the alleged defect could be caused by drainage systems problems or the incorporation of defective seals.

According to court documents, models comprising the class vehicles are the 2016-present Audi A3 Mk3, Audi Q3, Volkswagen Arteon, Volkswagen Atlas, Volkswagen Golf, Volkswagen Jetta, Volkswagen Passat, Volkswagen Tiguan, and Volkswagen Touareg, when sold with a sunroof.

“Consumers purchase the Class Vehicles reasonably expecting that their vehicles can be used in the normal and ordinary manner in which cars are used, including driving in the rain,” plaintiffs argue in the complaint. “Consumers reasonably expect that the class vehicles, all equipped with sunroofs, will not suffer water damage in the interior of the car when the sunroof is closed during inclement weather.”

The plaintiffs allege that Volkswagen “knowingly” sold and continues to sell tens of thousands of affected vehicles, which they say has resulted in leaks that damage interiors, electrical systems, audio systems, upholstery and seats.

The complaint accuses Volkswagen of unjust enrichment, fraud by omission, violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, violation of the consumer legal remedy act, breach of implied warranty and more. In turn, Volkswagen argued in a motion to dismiss lack of standing, expiration of statute of limitations, and that plaintiffs failed to state valid claims for relief. However, before a judge could rule on that motion to dismiss, the parties indicated that settlement negotiations were underway.

“Defendants deny all allegations of liability, strenuously contending that the subject sunroofs are not defective, that no fraudulent misrepresentation or omission has occurred nor were any express or implied warranties breached, that plaintiffs would not prevail through summary judgment and/or trial,” reads a motion in support of the settlement.

The settlement includes warranty extension benefits, with Volkswagen agreeing to cover a percentage of the cost of repairs during a period of up to seven years or 80,000 miles from the vehicle’s in-service date. The percentage the vehicle manufacturer pays will depend on a “sliding scale,” taking into account the age and mileage of the vehicle. A “sliding scale” will also be used with respect to agreed-upon reimbursement benefits. Sunroof service action benefits, such as sunroof drain cleaning, will be extended by six months for the class vehicles.

The Volkswagen case is far from the only piece of sunroof litigation making its way through the courts. Toyota, Nissan and Mercedes have also been sued for allegedly defective sunroofs. However, in those instances, the plaintiffs allege that the glass itself is prone to breaking under normal driving conditions.

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