Fiat Chrysler made certain Jeep and Dodge Ram models with fuel pumps that may fail early, despite making representations about durability, a proposed class action in Michigan federal court contends.
Sherman Fielding III of Florida said Friday that he bought a new 2021 Jeep Wrangler for about $88,300, only to be notified of the defect from a rideshare application after the Wrangler failed a safety inspection.
The high-pressure fuel pump at issue might introduce “internally failed component debris” into the fuel system, potentially causing what is called fuel starvation — which may result in an “unexpected loss of motor power,” according to the suit, citing a safety recall notice. The recall notice also states that “the remedy for this condition is not currently available,” Fielding said.
“[FCA US LLC] has long known that the defective vehicles contain the defect,” Fielding alleges. “Defendant has exclusive access to information about the defects through its dealerships, pre-release testing data, warranty data, customer complaint data, and replacement part sales data, among other sources of aggregate information about the problem.”
“In contrast, the defect was not known or reasonably discoverable by plaintiff and class members prior to purchase and without experiencing the defect firsthand and exposing themselves to an unreasonable safety risk,” Fielding continued.
Meanwhile, he alleges the company knew durability and “superiority” were material to consumers and made representations along those lines. The suit cites brochures for the Jeep Wrangler, Jeep Gladiator and Ram 1500 Pickup.
The vehicles at issue are certain 2020 through 2022 model year Jeep Wranglers, 2021 through 2022 model year Jeep Gladiators and 2020 through 2022 model year Ram 1500 Pickups, according to the suit.
Fielding proposed a nationwide class for people in the country who are current or former owners or lessees of one of the vehicles in dispute made with the defect and who bought or leased from any Fiat Chrysler-authorized dealership in the U.S., along with a Florida subclass.
Fielding seeks damages and brought claims for breach of express warranty, unjust enrichment, violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, fraudulent omission, breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty of merchantability, breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing, violation of the unfair and deceptive acts and practices laws, breaking the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and strict liability.
Counsel for Fiat Chrysler did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.
In October, a Michigan federal judge agreed to throw out a proposed class action against engine manufacturer Cummins and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles over defective fuel pumps in heavy-duty pickup trucks, ruling a promise to replace parts and inspect the fuel system makes the underlying case moot.
Fielding is represented by Zachary D. Ludens, Jordan A. Shaw and Lauren N. Palen of Zebersky Payne Shaw Lewenz LLP and J. Dennis Card of Consumer Law Organization PA.
Counsel information for Fiat Chrysler was not immediately available.
The case is Sherman Fielding III v. FCA US LLC, case number 2:23-cv-10691, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
Published on Law360 by Collin Krabbe and edited by Dave Trumbore. on March 24, 2023.