“Argument Over Arbitration Presented In Acura Infotainment Case”

This putative class action was filed on July 11, 2019 on behalf of a nationwide class and, in the alternative, various state subclasses, alleging that American Honda Motor Co.’s (“Honda”) 2019 and 2020 Acura RDX vehicles are equipped with defective infotainment systems, which frequently freeze or crash, rendering many of the vehicles’ features inoperable.  Plaintiffs describe the malfunction as a safety issue because it creates distractions for the driver and can also render safety-related systems, like the backup camera, to fail.

On April 9, 2020, Plaintiffs in this case against filed their motion for class certification.  Just before filing its opposition to Plaintiff’s motion for class certification, however, Honda filed a motion to compel arbitration on May 4, 2020, arguing that the arbitration provisions in its purchase and lease agreements bar most of the named Plaintiffs from litigating this matter as a class action in court.   In its motion to compel arbitration, Honda identified twenty named Plaintiffs that supposedly have agreements to arbitrate in their purchase and lease agreements.

Plaintiffs filed their opposition to Honda’s motion to compel arbitration on May 18, 2020, arguing that Honda’s motion to compel arbitration fails for two principal reasons: (1) Honda has waived its right to compel arbitration because it has litigated this case for nearly a year and failed to raise this argument in its two previous motions to dismiss; and (2) Honda is not a signatory to the purchase or lease contracts and, accordingly, cannot invoke a contractual right to compel arbitration, as those agreements are between Plaintiffs and their respective Acura Dealers.  Interestingly, Honda did include reference the arbitration agreements in its sixth defense to all causes of action in its Answer to Plaintiffs’ Second Amended Complaint, filed on January 31, 2020.  In its motion to compel arbitration, Honda argues that it was unaware of the arbitration provisions until it received the purchase and lease agreements through discovery, an argument that Plaintiffs reject as disingenuous, given that Honda had access to these agreements through its wholly-owned subsidiary, American Honda Finance Corp., at all times.  Plaintiffs have accused Honda of waiting to file its motion to compel arbitration until Plaintiffs filed their motion for class certification, a tactic which should not be blessed by the court.

The motion to compel arbitration is scheduled for hearing on June 8, 2020 before Judge R. Gary Klausner in the United States District Court for the Central District of California.

The legal team at SFMS has significant experience litigating consumer protection class action matters. If you have any questions regarding this subject or this posting, please contact John Roberts (jroberts@sfmslaw.com) or Alec Berin (aberin@sfmslaw.com). We can also be reached toll-free at (866) 540-5505.

Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah, LLP is a law firm with offices in California, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. SFMS is an active member of Integrated Advisory Group (www.iaginternational.org), which provides us with the ability to provide our clients with access to excellent legal and accounting resources throughout the globe. For more information about our firm, please visit us at www.sfmslaw.com.

Author: Jaclyn Reinhart

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