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Judge dismisses class action over wear of Audi Q7 brakes

By Kyla Asbury | May 19, 2014

MIAMI - (Legal Newsline) - A class action lawsuit against Volkswagen for allegedly designing faulty brakes and rotors on its Audi Q7 has been dismissed from federal court.

U.S. District Judge Federico A. Moreno found that Sandra Speier-Roche, the lead plaintiff in the class action, failed to establish elements of her claims and that those claims were time-barred.

"The fundamental problem with plaintiff's claim is that, by the plain language of the vehicle warranty, the brakes on plaintiff's vehicle were only covered under the warranty for the earlier of 12 months or 12,000 miles from the date of lease, and it is undisputed that defendant did not charge plaintiff for brake repair until after she had exceeded the time of warranty coverage, that is, after more than twelve months and 12,000 miles had expired after her lease signing date," the dismissal order filed April 30 stated.

Moreno's order states that the plaintiff attempted to circumvent the warranty limitation by arguing that the warranty terms applicable to brake parts, limiting coverage to the earlier of 12 months or 12,000 miles from the date of lease, do not apply to her claim. She argued the alleged "Brake System Defect" is caused by defects in material and/or workmanship and components that are installed in it.

As a result, the rotors and the pads wear out prematurely, she claimed.

"Put simply, she is attempting to allege that there is a defect in the vehicle design itself, the symptom of which is a defective brake component, so the applicable coverage period is a term extending to the earlier of 48-months or 50,000 miles," the order states.

Moreno found the argument unpersuasive.

"The plain terms of the vehicle warranty and plaintiff's own allegations preclude the court from adopting plaintiff's proposed interpretation as applicable to her claims," the order states. "Plaintiff's own allegations in the amended complaint limit the court's considerations to defects her vehicle's brake pads and rotors."

The plaintiff's amended complaint does not plead that a single component of her vehicle is allegedly defective other than the brake pads and rotors, Moreno ruled.

At the inception of the lawsuit, the alleged "brake defect" was defined as premature "wear" of the "brake pads and rotors."

"The amended complaint which purports to insert the word 'system' in between the words 'brake' and 'defect' does not identify any additional component part of the vehicle or any 'system' that either failed or is alleged to be defective," the order states.

"Plaintiff first brought her vehicle to the dealership complaining of the 'squeaking' of her brakes; the dealership diagnosed problems limited to the brake pads, front and back, and rotors, and finally, all cited repairs involved the front and back brake rotors and the brake pads."

Altogether, the only "acts" pleaded in the amended complaint regarding the vehicle's brakes are alleged premature wear and repair of the brake pads and rotors, according to Moreno's order.

"Therefore, by the plaintiff's allegations and the plain terms of the warranty, this court finds that the applicable warranty period here is that which is relevant to brake parts..."

Speier-Roche alleged in the complaint that she leased an Audi Q7 in 2007 and also received a limited warranty that covered the cost of all parts and labor needed to repair any defective manufacturing up to 12 months and 12,000 miles.

Speier-Roche claimed the brakes and rotors were defective and required frequent replacement, in violation of express and implied warranties, and filed her lawsuit on behalf of Audi owners since 2007.

The complaint alleges that Volkswagen violated the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and breached their written warranty under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.

Speier-Roche was represented by Michael S. Olin of Michael S. Olin PA; Richard E. Norman and R. Martin Weber Jr. of Crowley Norman LLP; and Matthew R. Mendelsohn and Adam M. Slater of Mazie Slater Katz & Freeman LLC.

Volkswagen was represented by Larry M. Roth and Michael D. Begey of Rumberger Kirk & Caldwell and Jeffrey L. Chase and Michael B. Gallub of Herzfeld & Rubin PC.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida case number: 1:14-CV-20107

From Legal Newsline: Kyla Asbury can be reached at classactions@legalnewsline.com.

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