United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division
ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION RE: DKT.
H. KOH United States District Judge
Paul B. Butler (“Plaintiff”) brings the instant
putative class action against Defendant Porsche Cars North
America, Inc. (“Defendant” or
“Porsche”) for violation of the Consumer Legal
Remedies Act, Cal. Civ. Code § 1750, et seq.
(“CLRA”) and California's Unfair Competition
Law, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200, et seq.
(“UCL”). Before the Court is Plaintiff's
motion for class certification. The Court finds this matter
appropriate for determination without oral argument and
hereby VACATES the motion hearing set for April 20, 2017.
Civil L. R. 7-1(b). Having considered the submissions of the
parties, the relevant law, and the record in this case, the
Court DENIES Plaintiff's motion for class certification.
is a California resident and seeks to represent a class and a
sub-class of statewide consumers who purchased a 2005-2008
Porsche 911 (alternatively called “Porsche 997”)
vehicle manufactured before February 2008 (hereinafter,
“Class Vehicles”). Plaintiff alleges that the
wiring harness in all Class Vehicles, which is used to
connect the vehicle's alternator and battery in order to
allow the alternator to recharge the car's battery, is
Plaintiff's Experience with the Wiring Harness
owns a 2007 Porsche 911 S C2 Cabriolet. ECF No. 37 (First
Amended Class Action Complaint, or “FAC”), at
¶ 6. Plaintiff purchased his vehicle used from Stevens
Creek Porsche, a Porsche factory authorized dealership in
Santa Clara, California, on July 18, 2015. Id.;
see Butler v. Porsche Cars N.A., Inc., 2016 WL
4474630, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 25, 2016). Plaintiff's
vehicle was sold to its original owner on May 27, 2007.
See FAC, Ex. 1.
Plaintiff's vehicle reached approximately 78, 000 miles,
Plaintiff “found that the key remained stuck in his
vehicle and the car would not start.” Id.
¶ 6. Plaintiff brought his vehicle to Stevens Creek
Porsche for inspection and repair. Id. The mechanic
found that Plaintiff's battery “was insufficiently
charged.” Id. The mechanic replaced the
alternator, but the battery continued to charge
insufficiently. Id. The mechanic eventually found
that the problem was caused by a faulty wiring harness in
Plaintiff's vehicle. Id. The mechanic replaced
Plaintiff's wiring harness, and charged Plaintiff $3,
180.44 for the repair. Id.
The Nature of the Alleged Defect
to Plaintiff, Class Vehicles suffer from a defective wiring
harness which connects the vehicle's alternator to the
battery. This wiring harness is necessary to recharge the
battery from the alternator during the vehicle's
operation. The wiring harness “is comprised of two
pieces of copper cable, connected by a [brass] terminal lug
mounted on the starter.” See Opp. at 9; ECF
NO. 53-4 (“Meltzer Decl.”), ¶ 5.
August 11, 2007, Ken Gould (“Gould”), an employee
at Porsche, investigated the wiring harness problem and
prepared a report on the source of the problem. ECF No. 45-6
(“Gould Report”), at 2. Gould explained that the
wiring harness was “overheating at the starter terminal
lug, ” which caused the “cable insulation near
the starter terminal lug and the rubber protective cover on
the lug to melt.” Id. This resulted “in
a reduced battery charge voltage, ” leading to
“discharge to the point that vehicle engine w[ould]
not start.” Id. Gould conducted an
investigation on the wire harnesses and concluded that
“[t]he root cause for the wire harness failure appears
to be a poor electrical connection between the 25 mm stranded
copper wire and the brass alloy terminal lug that connects
the 25 mm and 35 mm cables and provides power to the starter
when subjected to higher current loads.” Id.
at 4. Gould explained that “[t]he poor electrical
connection is probably the result of the much lower
electrical conductivity of the brass terminal (28%) when
compared to copper and less than perfect crimping of the
[brass] terminal to the 25 mm [copper] cable.”
Id. Gould further also stated that “[t]he use
of a 25 mm stranded copper cable to carry the potential
current capacity of the 150 ampere alternator is questionable
as well.” Id.
November 2007, following completion of the Gould report, Eric
Meltzer (“Meltzer”), an engineer at Porsche,
“escalated the issue” to the manufacturer of
Porsche-brand motor vehicles, Dr. Ing h.c. F. Porsche AG
(“Porsche AG”). Meltzer Decl. ¶ 9.
Meltzer's report largely repeated the findings and
conclusions of the Gould report. See ECF No. 50-5.
also “drafted an Advanced Technical Information
(“ATI”) that was published to Porsche authorized
dealerships on January 30, 2008.” Meltzer Decl. ¶
10. “The ATI advised dealers that the Cable may be the
cause of” customer complaints regarding battery
January 2008, Porsche instituted two
“countermeasures” to correct for the faulty
wiring harness. ECF No. 45-5 (“Meltzer Dep.”), at
5. First, because Porsche learned that the wire defect was a
result of a “process abnormality” at the
supplier, Porsche corrected the abnormality “at the
supplier.” Id. at 5. Porsche also implemented
a “second countermeasure” whereby Porsche made
changes to the wiring harness itself. Id. Thus,
beginning in January 2008, Porsche “used a
next-generation” wiring harness. Id.
Accordingly, Porsche 911 vehicles manufactured after January
2008 contain a different wiring harness than Porsche 911
vehicles manufactured before January 2008. Id.
Porsche's Omissions About the Wiring Harness
alleges that Porsche knew about the defect “by the time
that Plaintiff's 2007 model year was first sold, ”
as evidenced by the ATI that Porsche issued to dealerships in
January 2008. Id. ¶ 13. Plaintiff also alleges
that Porsche received numerous customer complaints and
“a host of message boards for aggrieved Porsche owners
has arisen online” about the defect. Id.
¶ 9, 13.
alleges that, although Porsche issued the ATI to dealerships,
Porsche “never made any disclosure to consumers or the
putative class members about the defect plaguing the Class
Vehicles.” FAC ¶ 13. Moreover, although Porsche
changed the wiring harness for vehicles manufactured after
January 2008 “that no longer presents the alleged
defect, ” Porsche “took no action with respect to
the Class Vehicles.” Id. ¶ 15.
filed a class action lawsuit against Porsche on April 19,
2016. ECF No. 1. Plaintiff alleged causes of action under the
CLRA and UCL. Id.
moved to dismiss the complaint on June 3, 2016. ECF No. 12.
Specifically, Porsche argued that Plaintiff did not
sufficiently allege that Porsche had a duty to disclose the
defect; that Plaintiff failed to sufficiently plead
Porsche's knowledge at the time of sale; and that
Plaintiff did not sufficiently plead that Plaintiff engaged
in a “transaction” with Porsche for purposes of
the CLRA. Id. Porsche also asserted that Plaintiff
lacked standing to seek injunctive relief. Id.
Plaintiff filed an opposition to Porsche's motion to
dismiss on June 17, 2016, ECF No. 19, and Porsche filed a
reply on June 30, 2016, ECF No. 22.
August 25, 2016, this Court granted in part and denied in
part Porsche's motion to dismiss. Butler v. Porsche
Cars N.A., 2016 WL 4474630 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 25, 2016).
Specifically, the Court held that Plaintiff had adequately
alleged that the “defect in the wiring harness posed a
safety hazard that gave rise to a duty to disclose the
defect.” Id. at *4. The Court also held that
Plaintiff adequately alleged that Porsche had knowledge of
the defect at the time that Plaintiff's car was
originally sold in May 2007, and that Plaintiff satisfied the
“transaction” requirement of the CLRA.
Id. at *5-6. However, the Court concluded that
Plaintiff lacked standing to seek an injunction compelling
Porsche to replace the wiring harness because Plaintiff had
already replaced his faulty wiring harness with a
“next-generation” wiring harness, and there were
no allegations that Plaintiffs new wiring harness was
defective. Id. at *8.
September 7, 2016, Plaintiff filed a FAC, which maintained
the same causes of action but removed Plaintiffs request for
injunctive relief. See FAC. On September 26, 2016,
Porsche answered the FAC. ECF No. 40.
January 26, 2017, Plaintiff filed a motion for class
certification, in an addition to a sealing motion. ECF Nos.
44 & 45 (“Mot.”). Plaintiffs motion for class
certification seeks to certify the following proposed
• CLRA Class: All natural persons who
purchased a Porsche 911 vehicle of model year 2005 through
model year 2008 (manufactured before February 2008) ...