This lawsuit alleges that certain year Chrysler Dodge Rams have a defective tie rod stud that can fracture under normal driving conditions and a defective cross car linkage system that allows contact between the ball stud and the ball housing, further weakening the rod ball stud.
As a consequence of these flaws, the plaintiff Ram owners argue that Chrysler has engaged in negligent misrepresentation, breach of express and implied warranties, violation of the Magnusson-Moss Federal Warranty Act and has obtained unjust enrichment.
Specifically, this class action lawsuit argues that several Chrysler vehicles are characterized by a design defect that severely impacts their safety. The plaintiffs argue that the driver's side tie rod ball stud is insufficiently strong to withstand customary usage and will likely fracture under typical operating conditions. The defect itself is made worse by the defectively designed Cross Car steering linkage system.
Tie rods are key elements to any vehicle steering system. Loose tie rods can produce unwanted vehicle shimmy and extreme front end vibration. They can also impact front end alignment and cause sudden pulling to one side which can be difficult for a driver to correct. Defective tie rods can also produce uneven tire wear, posing additional dangers to drivers and their passengers.
Chrysler has presented its products to the public as being reliable and safe and has also offered New Vehicle Limited Warranties to Dodge Ram owners and lessees as a means to bolster those claims. Under the terms of the warranty, Chrysler pledged to replace or repair defective parts for a period of three years or 36,000 miles.
It is now alleged that Chrysler has long been aware of the tie rod defects, gaining such awareness just after its release of the affected models in 2008. However, the company repeatedly denied the existence of such issues in the face of customer inquiries and has offered insufficient remedies in the way of recall repairs. The plaintiffs argue that as a result, they ended up with vehicles they would never had purchased otherwise and that are of significantly less value than they were led to believe.
Chrysler has issued multiple recalls pertaining to the tie rod defect after conducting internal studies concerning failure rates and being the subject of NHTSA investigations, but has consistently lacked the volume of available parts needed to make all requested repairs. The company has not provided owners or lessees with any sort of compensation or reimbursement for the loss of value or other damages sustained.
In the face of its own knowledge of the defective tie rod components in its Dodge Ram trucks, Chrysler has not met its obligation to inform consumers or to provide the necessary repairs and remedies. Consequently, consumers have sustained monetary losses and have been left with vehicles understood to be unsafe.
The plaintiffs survived in part a motion to dismiss. The briefing schedule for class certification appears to run into the summer of 2016. We will update the status of this case in August, 2016 once class certification is fully briefed.