Nissan loses case on dashboards’ defect

05/27/2014 8:08 PM

06/03/2014 10:17 AM

Bubbling dashboards have led an Independence jury to award $2,000 each to perhaps a thousand Missouri motorists.

The class action case against Nissan North America Inc. involved Infiniti FX35 and FX45 sport utility vehicles with a protracted dashboard problem — extraneous effervescence.

Attorney Kevin Stanley, who represented consumers, said bubbles appeared on the dashboards of 2003 model year Infiniti FX vehicles, and Nissan North America came up with a replacement dashboard three years later.

It bubbled, too.

A second replacement dashboard came out in 2009, said Stanley, with Humphrey, Farrington & McClain. He said Nissan warranty claims include 80 instances of bubbles on the new dashboards.

“There’s another version of the dashboard that came out in 2012,” Stanley said. “There is at least one report of that dash also bubbling in their warranty records.”

An attorney for Nissan North America referred questions to a spokesman for Infiniti, one of its divisions. Kyle Bazemore with Infiniti said the company was disappointed with the jury’s decision and was reviewing its options.

“Our company remains committed to a high level of quality, customer service and satisfaction,” Bazemore said in an email.

He also said the company had extended the warranty for the dashboards to eight years and unlimited mileage.

The warranty followed the vehicle even after resale, according to a letter that customers received and that was posted online.

The letter assured owners the problem was “strictly cosmetic and does not present a safety issue.” Nissan North America, it said, was ready to replace the dashes and cover expenses for those who had the repair or replacement done previously.

Stanley said the extension came only after the lawsuit was filed in December 2009.

Also, Stanley said, car owners still were denied warranty coverage because their first dashboard or a replacement had not bubbled until after the extended warranty expired. Others did not receive notice of the extended warranty, he said.

The jury, acting in two hours after two weeks of trial, awarded the damages to members of the court-approved class.

Stanley said the $2,000 damages applied to owners of the 2003 through 2008 model year vehicles that they bought through Nissan or Infiniti dealerships in Missouri. Those who qualify will be notified by the court, he said, possibly in a few months assuming Nissan doesn’t appeal the jury award.

He estimates 1,000 car owners would qualify, based on Missouri registration records. The lawsuit was brought under the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act.

To reach Mark Davis, call 816-234-4372 or send email to mdavis@kcstar.com.

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