A federal judge in New Jersey has approved a nationwide class-action settlement for the current and former owners and lessees of more than 1 million Honda and Acura cars that allegedly suffered from broken air conditioning systems that manufacturers refused to fix under warranty, according to a lawyer representing the class of plaintiffs and court documents.
The federal lawsuit was brought in 2008, plaintiffs’ lawyer Matthew Mendelsohn said yesterday, and its settlement — which Mendelsohn said is valued at more than $40 million — was approved last month by U.S. District Judge Katherine S. Hayden in Newark.
According to Mendelsohn, the class represented in the suit included more than 2.4 million current and former owners and lessees. Thus far, he added, about 19,000 of them have made claims under the suit’s settlement, although he also expects many more to make claims in the future.
"I think the result we were able to achieve in this case was very good," he also said, while noting that it is rare for a lawsuit of this kind to be brought nationwide, rather than in an individual state.
The lawsuit was filed in Newark by Mendelsohn’s firm, Mazie Slater Katz & Freeman, because the lead plaintiff, Jon Alin, lives in Montville.
Mendelsohn said the settlement, which comes after more than 3 years in court, provides tens of millions of dollars in reimbursements and vehicle modifications to be paid for by Honda and Acura, more than $2.5 million in fees and expenses awarded by Judge Hayden to the attorneys representing the settlement class, and approximately $2 million in administrative expenses to be paid by Honda and Acura.
Still, he said, 2 class members have filed objections to the settlement, and that payouts under the settlement are stayed pending resolution of those appeals.
According to Mendelsohn, the cars named in the lawsuit were the 2005 to 2007 Honda Odyssey, the 2002 to 2004 Honda CR-V, and the 2004 Acura TSX.
"The problem with the cars was the air conditioning systems was failing prematurely, and in some cases was resulting in catastrophic failures," Mendlesohn said. "For instance, on the Honda CR-V, the air conditioning compressor would implode and shoot debris throughout the entire air conditioning system, so that it would require replacement of associated air conditioning parts, not just the failed part itself."
A call made yesterday afternoon to 1 of the lead defense lawyers for Honda was not returned.