Fiat 500 Rear Wiring Harness Lawsuit Dismissed

Judge rules plaintiff failed to allege facts to show Fiat Chrysler knew of rear wiring problems.

Fiat 500 Rear Wiring Harness Lawsuit Dismissed

Posted in News

— A Fiat 500 rear wiring harness lawsuit has been dismissed after the federal judge found the plaintiff didn't allege facts to support his claims.

The plaintiff says he purchased a new 2012 Fiat 500 and in 2016 the doors stopped locking and unlocking electronically, the rear window wiper failed and the interior lights allegedly failed.

In 2018 some of the dash lights allegedly stopped working and the plaintiff claims he couldn't open the hatch of the Fiat 500.

Topping off the list of alleged problems was the theft alarm which mistakenly activated at times, convincing the plaintiff to get the car to a dealership. Technicians allegedly diagnosed all the problems as caused by a rear wiring harness, and separately a failure of the hatch latch.

According to the plaintiff, he was stuck with paying more than $475 out of his own pocket for repairs.

The wiring harness allegedly makes the Fiat 500 defective because the harness wears out too early as the insulation breaks down, all allegedly caused by the angle of the harness. The plaintiff argues the wiring prematurely wears each time the hatch is opened or closed, an argument Fiat Chrysler says is empty and bogus.

The automaker says the plaintiff shouldn't be complaining about wiring that gets old as the vehicle gets old, and in this case the owner drove the vehicle for six years before having to replace one harness.

And although the plaintiff talks about the problem being a serious safety hazard, he waited two years after problems originally occurred to take the car to a dealership. Chrysler also references the lawsuit itself to show the vehicle hasn't suffered additional problems since the wiring harness was replaced.

Chrysler told the judge there was no reason to file a lawsuit, much less a nationwide class action lawsuit, simply because a wiring harness failed after six years of driving the Fiat 500.

The automaker claims the lawsuit should be dismissed because wire harnesses, like all components of a car, eventually wear out over time and need to be replaced. That is allegedly no reason to file a nationwide class action lawsuit.

The judge agreed with Chrysler and dismissed the entire lawsuit, ruling the plaintiff didn't allege facts to show Fiat Chrysler knew of alleged wiring harness problems when the plaintiff bought the car in April 2012.

According to the judge, the plaintiff didn't cite specific internal data, test results or other records held by Chrysler that would identify wiring harness defects prior to April 2012.

In addition, the suit was dismissed because the plaintiff didn't plead any facts supporting that the automaker took acts to conceal possible problems with the wiring harnesses.

The judge also found problems with allegations the rear wiring harness caused an unreasonable safety hazard because “failure of the third brake light and license plate lights reduce vehicle visibility, prevent the driver from warning other drivers that the brakes are engaged, leading to accidents and personal injury.”

The judge pointed out that even if the third brake light claim was true, the plaintiff never alleged his vehicle had a problem with the third brake light. As for license plate lights, the judge said the plaintiff never explained how failure of the license plate lights could pose a safety concern.

"The Court is inclined to believe that these lights do not pertain to any safety concern whatsoever and rather are meant to allow bystanders to observe the vehicle’s license plate number if necessary to identify the vehicle and/or the driver. The Court fails to see how the absence of those license plate lights could cause more accidents or otherwise render the vehicle less safe to drive." - Judge Stephen V. Wilson

The Fiat 500 hatch wiring harness lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California - Kahn, et al., v. FCA US LLC. has driver complaints about the Fiat 500.