— Hyundai Santa Fe "hesitation on acceleration" problems are being debated as a proposed class action lawsuit struggles in a New Jersey court.
The lawsuit alleges Hyundai concealed powertrain defects that cause a loss of power, rough shifting and delayed acceleration when turning or merging onto highways.
Plaintiff Jan Schechter filed the proposed class action lawsuit on behalf of all persons in the U.S. who purchased, own, owned, lease or leased 2017-2018 Hyundai Santa Fe SUVs or 2017-2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sports.
Hesitation and acceleration problems allegedly cause customers to incur out-of-pocket expenses in an effort to repair the lurching, jerking and engine revving associated with the engine and transmission defects.
The plaintiff claims his 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport lost power while he was driving and complained the RPM increased when he pressed the accelerator pedal but the SUV didn't move. The plaintiff also claims the delayed acceleration lasted five to six seconds before the Santa Fe Sport finally took off.
Schechter says Hyundai was unable to fix the hesitation and acceleration problems during two trips to the dealership.
According to the plaintiff, Hyundai's advertisements for the Santa Fe Sport never mentioned powertrain problems and complaining directly to Hyundai did nothing to remedy the problems.
The lawsuit further says Hyundai should buy back the SUVs or create a program to repair or replace the vehicles.
According to the lawsuit, claims against Hyundai include:
- Negligent misrepresentation
- Breach of the express warranty
- Breach of the implied warranty
- Violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act
- Unjust enrichment
- Violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act
- Violation of California's Consumer Legal Remedies Act
- Violation of California's Unfair Competition Law
Hyundai filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit and almost completely succeeded after the judge dismissed all claims except two.
Hyundai told the judge the plaintiff cannot bring claims related to 2017-2018 Santa Fe Sport 2.0T and 2017-2018 Santa Fe Sport 3.3L vehicles because he didn't own or lease those models. However, the plaintiff says he has the right to include those vehicles because they are similar to his.
That argument didn't fly with the judge who ruled the plaintiff failed to adequately allege the vehicles are "sufficiently similar." This left the plaintiff with the ability to only represent customers who leased or purchased 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sports equipped with 2.4-liter engines.
The automaker also argued the plaintiff had no viable claims concerning Hyundai concealing alleged powertrain defects or knowing about the alleged problems before the plaintiff purchased his Santa Fe Sport.
According to the lawsuit, Hyundai must have known about possible problems based on consumer complaints and the issuance of technical service bulletins (TSBs) to dealerships. But the judge found two of the bulletins referenced unrelated problems on vehicles that aren't included in the class action.
The judge ruled none of this is proof Hyundai allegedly knew of acceleration and hesitation problems.
The plaintiff also failed to show Hyundai was aware of anonymous complaints posted online and never alleged the automaker monitored or tracked the website of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Furthermore, the plaintiff failed to show the government contacted Hyundai about the posted complaints.
"Absent such allegations, consumer complaints on third-party websites are insufficient to support a manufacturer's knowledge of an alleged defect. [I]mputing knowledge of a defect to a manufacturer based upon an internet posting would mean that virtually every consumer product company would be subject to fraud claims and extensive discovery."
By the end, the judge dismissed all the claims except breach of express and implied warranties, and tossed all claims relating to Santa Fe Sport 2.0T and Santa Fe Sport 3.3-liter vehicles.
The Hyundai Santa Fe hesitation on acceleration lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey - Schechter v. Hyundai Motor America, et al.
The plaintiff is represented by Bursor & Fisher.