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Nguyen v. Nissan North America, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

April 11, 2017

HUU NGUYEN, Plaintiff,
v.
NISSAN NORTH AMERICA, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS RE DKT., 36

          LUCY H. KOH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Huu Nguyen (“Plaintiff”) sues Defendant Nissan North America, Inc. (“Nissan” or “Defendant”) for causes of action arising out of Nissan's allegedly deceptive sale of vehicles containing a defective manual transmission. ECF No. 35 (First Amended Complaint, or “FAC”). Before the Court is Nissan's motion to dismiss. ECF No. 36 (“Mot.”). Having considered the submissions of the parties, the relevant law, and the record in this case, the Court GRANTS Defendant's motion to dismiss.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         Plaintiff seeks to represent a class of consumers who purchased or leased any Nissan vehicle equipped with the FS6R31A manual transmission. FAC ¶ 1. These vehicles include the Nissan 350Z, model years 2007-2009; the Nissan 370Z, model years 2009-2015; the Infiniti G35, model years 2007-2008; the Infiniti G37, model years 2008-2014; and the Infiniti Q60 (hereinafter, the “Class Vehicles”). Id.

         1. The Clutch Assembly Defect

         The FS6R31A manual transmission in Class Vehicles uses a hydraulic clutch system. Id. ¶ 8. In a hydraulic clutch system, when the driver depresses the clutch pedal, “fluid pushes from the clutch master cylinder to the slave cylinder, developing hydraulic pressure and ultimately disconnecting the transmission from the engine via the clutch disc to allow for smooth gear shifts.” Id. The FS6R31A manual transmission utilizes an internal slave cylinder, as opposed to an external slave cylinder. Id. The internal slave cylinder is “placed inside the [bellhousing] unit along with the clutch disc, pressure plate, and flywheel.” Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that the FS6R31A manual transmission in Class Vehicles suffers from “a design flaw in the slave cylinder assembly.” Id. ¶ 12. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that “the plastic internal cylinder requires excessive manipulation during the [Class Vehicles'] initial assembly in order to fit inside the bellhousing unit, ” which “caus[es] stress fractures from which hydraulic fluid leaks.” Id. ¶ 12. “As the stress fractures grow, so does the deprivation of hydraulic fluid from the clutch master cylinder to the slave cylinder, which causes damage to the vehicle's clutch slave cylinder, clutch disc, and pressure plate.” Id. ¶ 12. This problem “is exacerbated by the slave cylinder's thin composition that is prone to corrosion by constant exposure to hydraulic fluid.” Id.

         This alleged design flaw in the Class Vehicles' slave cylinder assembly (hereinafter, the “Clutch Assembly Defect”) causes “the clutch to lose hydraulic pressure and fail to engage/disengage gears.” Id. ¶ 10. This “causes unsafe conditions, including drivers' inability to shift gears or maneuver the clutch pedal in the Class Vehicles, thereby rendering the vehicles unable to accelerate and decelerate, often while the vehicles are already in motion.” Id.

         2. Nissan's Knowledge of the Defect

         According to Plaintiff, Nissan “knew or should have known” about the Clutch Assembly Defect “[d]ating back to at least 2008.” Id. ¶ 15, 49.

         Plaintiff alleges that consumers filed complaints with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) regarding the 2007 Nissan 350Z as early as June 2007. Id. ¶ 52. In January 2008, Nissan issued a customer service program, “CSP NTB08-002, ” “for all 2007 Nissan 350Z vehicles. Id. ¶ 16. “Nissan discover[ed] ‘that on certain 2007 350Z vehicles equipped with the 6-speed manual transmission, the clutch slave cylinder assembly may not have been manufactured properly, '” which “could result in the operating force of the clutch pedal becoming light, and in some cases, could result in improper clutch operation.” Id. Despite Nissan's customer service program, consumers continued to experience the same clutch issue. Id. ¶ 16.

         On April 10, 2013, Nissan issued a Technical Service Bulletin “for all 2009-2013 Nissan 370Z vehicles stating that ‘the clutch pedal on an applied vehicle does not return to its normal (rested) position after being depressed to the floor.'” Id. ¶ 17. “Nissan dealers were instructed to change the clutch hydraulic system fluid for all affected vehicles.” Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that “Nissan knew about and concealed the Clutch Assembly Defect present in every Class Vehicle” from Plaintiff and other class members “at the time of sale, lease, and repair and thereafter.” Id. ¶ 24. “[I]nstead of repairing the defects in the Manual Transmission, Nissan either refused to ...


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