The Reinalt-Thomas Corp. and Discount Tire Co. Inc. have been hit with a proposed class action alleging the companies have fallen short in satisfying federal registration requirements for tires sold by independent dealers to consumers.
Stressing the dangers of ineffective recalls, the lawsuit says that the American public is generally unaware that independent tire dealers and distributors are federally required to register tires sold to the public with the tires’ manufacturers. The registration process enables tire makers to notify buyers in the event of a safety-related recall, with the hope that consumers will stop driving on potentially defective tires and return the products for a replacement, the case explains. According to the complaint, though 3.2 million tires were recalled between 2009 and 2013, most drivers using the tires were unaware they had been recalled.
More specifically, the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act requires that independent tire sellers, for each tire sold, provide a buyer with a paper registration form outlining the seller’s contact information and the entire federally mandatory tire identification number, the lawsuit says. The purpose of doing so, according to the case, is to allow buyers to add their name and contact information to the form before sending the paper to the manufacturer. In the alternative, an independent tire seller must complete the form and send it to the manufacturer on behalf of the consumer within 30 days, per the case.
According to the lawsuit, the defendants have sold millions of tires nationwide without registering such with tire manufacturers within the timeline set by federal law or providing drivers with registration forms. The companies’ failure to do so has not only “exposed and continues to expose” drivers to harm, but has deprived consumers of the full benefit of their tire purchases, the case alleges. From the lawsuit:
“For example, Defendants harmed Class Members by not providing what they paid for. Class Members paid for tires registered in accordance with federal law, but received tires that were not registered as mandated by federal law and were therefore unsafe. Class Members not only paid for the tires themselves, but also paid the cost of Defendants’ compliance with federal law, which is intended to make purchasers reachable by tire manufacturers them in the event of a tire recall.”
The lawsuit argues that while the companies’ conduct has “spared its tire sales personnel” a few minutes to sell more tires, Reinalt-Thomas and Discount Tire Co. were “unjustly enriched by the sales” made during the time that should have been spent registering consumers’ tires. All told, the defendants’ failure to comply with tire-registration requirements “constitutes a misrepresentation that those tire sales comply with federal law, when they do not,” the lawsuit claims, adding that drivers have been left with the false impression that they can be reached by tire manufacturers in the event of a recall.