458 F.3d 549 (6th Cir. 2006), 05-3545, Daffin v. Ford Motor Co.

Docket Nº:05-3545.
Citation:458 F.3d 549
Party Name:Patricia A. DAFFIN, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. FORD MOTOR COMPANY, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:August 18, 2006
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
 
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Page 549

458 F.3d 549 (6th Cir. 2006)

Patricia A. DAFFIN, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

FORD MOTOR COMPANY, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 05-3545.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.

August 18, 2006

Argued: June 7, 2006.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio at Cincinnati. No. 00-00458—Susan J. Dlott, District Judge.

Page 550

ARGUED:

Brian C. Anderson, O'Melveny & Myers, Washington, D.C., for Appellant.

John C. Murdock, Murdock, Goldenberg, Schneider & Groh, Cincinnati, Ohio, for Appellee.

ON BRIEF:

Brian C. Anderson, O'Melveny & Myers, Washington, D.C., Gary Glass, Thompson Hine, Cincinnati, Ohio, for Appellant.

John C. Murdock, Murdock, Goldenberg, Schneider & Groh, Cincinnati, Ohio, for Appellee.

Before: MARTIN, MOORE, and ROGERS, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

ROGERS, Circuit Judge.

In this interlocutory appeal of class certification under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, we affirm the district court's certification of a class of all 1999 or 2000 Mercury Villager owners and lessees who owned or leased their vans during their van's initial warranty period. The class seeks damages for a defective throttle body assembly that causes the accelerator to stick. Although the class includes those owners who never actually experienced a manifestation of the alleged defect, the class certification was not an abuse of discretion because the class and the named plaintiff meet the elements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a) and 23(b)(3).

I. Background

Plaintiff Daffin owns a 1999 Mercury Villager minivan. The accelerator in Daffin's Villager has stuck in place. To overcome the accelerator's sticking, Daffin had to stomp on the accelerator. Ford repaired the throttle body assembly by cleaning it, but Daffin's accelerator sticking persisted. According to Daffin's expert, the accelerator sticking is caused by carbon buildup in the throttle body assembly. The throttle body assembly translates the driver's pressure on the accelerator to an increase or decrease in the mixture of fuel and air that makes the Villager accelerate. Daffin alleges that the throttle body is defective. According to plaintiffs expert, the throttle body either

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needs to be treated with a substance that will resist carbon buildup or a totally different throttle body must be installed. Plaintiffs expert also opined that Daffin's throttle body is the same throttle body that is in all 1999 or 2000 Villagers.

Ford offers a standard "repair or replace" warranty for three years or 36,000 miles. The terms of this warranty require Ford to repair or replace parts found to be "defective in materials or workmanship." The warranty reads as follows:

During this coverage period ["three years or 36,000 miles"], authorized Ford Motor Company dealers will repair, replace, or adjust all parts on your vehicle (except tires) that are defective in factory-supplied materials or workmanship. Items or conditions that are not covered by the New Vehicle Limited Warranty are described on 7-9.

The throttle body assembly is not an item that is specifically excluded by the express terms of the warranty.

Daffin filed suit as an individual in state court. Ford removed the case to federal court, and Daffin sought class certification for a nationwide class on June 29,2001. The district court certified a statewide class defined to include:

all Ohio residents who lease or own a model year 1999 or 2000 Villager that was bought or leased during the warranty period, excluding the defendant, any entity that has a controlling interest in the defendant along with defendant's employees, officers, directors, legal representatives and all of their respective heirs, successors, and assignees and any entity alleging a personal injury claim against Ford arising from the facts of this case.

The district court reasoned that the class satisfied the numerosity element because the thousands of class members could not be practicably joined. Common questions of whether the throttle body assembly is defective predominate. The...

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