Subaru of America, Inc. faces a proposed class action wherein six drivers allege the automaker has failed to disclose that certain Forester, Legacy and Outback models suffer from a sudden acceleration defect.
According to the 60-page suit out of New Jersey, Subaru has known since at least 2011 that certain 2012-2018 Forester, 2015-2019 Legacy and 2015-2019 Outback models (class vehicles) can suddenly and unintentionally accelerate without driver input—even when the brake pedal is depressed. The case says the apparent flaw poses an “extreme and unreasonable” safety hazard to drivers, passengers and pedestrians in that affected vehicle models can accelerate even if a driver attempts to brake while the defect occurs.
Per the suit, proposed class members are commonly caught off-guard by the defect given it often manifests when a driver is attempting to slow down or stop the car.
“Not surprisingly, many Class Vehicle owners have reported collisions or near-collisions due to the sudden and unexpected acceleration,” the suit says, claiming that two plaintiffs were hospitalized as a result of the issue.
For those who have attempted to have the defect fixed, Subaru has instructed dealers to inform consumers that their vehicles are “operating normally” or that “no issues could be found,” the suit alleges. In other instances, the case says, Subaru dealers have shifted the blame to drivers by stating a vehicle’s floor mats may have caused the unintended acceleration regardless of whether such are properly secured or in place. For some affected Subaru models, dealers have taken to replacing a defective vehicle component is replaced with another faulty part, according to the lawsuit.
The complaint chalks Subaru’s apparent pass-the-buck tactics as “a common practice in the automotive industry” that serves to effectively play on drivers’ lack of technical knowledge in order to avoid addressing the issue for years until a car’s warranty has expired.
Per the case, Subaru’s active concealment of the sudden acceleration defect runs contrary to its emphasis on safety and reliability. Alleging certain Forester, Legacy and Outback models are defective “in at least three primary respects,” the lawsuit claims affected Subarus are equipped with inadequate fault detection systems not robust enough to anticipate “foreseeable unwanted outcomes,” such as unintended acceleration. Further, the case says the throttle position sensor, throttle body assembly, powertrain control module, circuit boards and/or related components found in affected vehicles are “highly susceptible to malfunction.” Lastly, the brake override systems found in affected Subaru models are ineffective at overriding acceleration that a driver does not initiate and cannot control, the complaint says.
To date, Subaru has not recalled affected vehicles to fix the sudden acceleration issue nor offered to drivers a suitable repair or replacement of parts to address the problem free of charge, according to the case. Moreover, the apparent defect has diminished the overall and resale value of proposed class members’ vehicles, the suit says.
“Had plaintiffs and other Class Members known of the Sudden Acceleration Defect, they would have paid less for the Class Vehicles or would not have purchased or leased them,” the complaint reads.
The suit looks to represent a nationwide class of those who bought or leased a 2012-2018 Subaru Forester, 2015-2019 Legacy or 2015-2019 Outback, as well as Colorado-, Connecticut-, New Jersey- and North Carolina-only subclasses.
Get class action lawsuit news sent to your inbox – sign up for ClassAction.org’s newsletter here.