U.S. District Judge William L. Campbell, Jr., in the Middle District of Tennessee, Nashville Division, sided with the plaintiff in a lawsuit against Nissan this week. Judge Campbell rejected the automaker’s efforts to toss Kemp v. Nissan North America, Inc. The case is consolidated with a group of parallel claims in In re Nissan North America, Inc. Litigation (M.D. TN) filed by Beasley Allen attorneys Clay Barnett and Mitch Williams. While the court’s ruling this week applied only to Ms. Kemp’s case, it sets the stage for a similar outcome of a motion the company filed to dismiss In re Nissan.

“We are encouraged by Judge Campbell’s ruling in Ms. Kemp’s case as our clients brought parallel claims in In re Nissan,” Barnett said. “Based on the court’s findings in Ms. Kemp’s case, we are confident our clients’ claims will earn clearance to proceed. Our clients believe it is important to hold Nissan accountable for the company’s misrepresentations about the safety of their vehicles and failure to repair the dangerous defects.”

As with Ms. Kemp, plaintiffs in In re Nissan allege that the Forward Emergency Braking System (FEB System) in Nissan and Infiniti vehicles, model year 2015 and newer models, malfunctions. They explain that the defect poses a safety hazard and diminishes their vehicles’ value. One or more defects in the FEB System, also called the Automatic Emergency Braking System, can cause the affected vehicles to brake without warning or need or suffer automatic braking system shutdown.

The braking system was designed to better protect travelers by using radar technology to gauge the vehicle’s proximity to vehicles and obstacles ahead. If the driver fails to respond, the braking system can apply the brakes and help the driver avoid a collision or mitigate the impact if a crash is unavoidable. However, when the system falsely detects non-existent obstacles, it triggers the brakes and causes the vehicles to slow down or stop unnecessarily. Some plaintiffs say unexpected slowing or stopping happened to them in various circumstances, including while driving on highways at high speeds. Other plaintiffs say their FEB System unintentionally deactivated, triggering a flashing warning light that reads “Front Radar Unavailable Due to Obstruction.”

Class members also claim that Nissan continues to ignore consumer complaints, warranty data, dealership orders, pre-production testing, and other warnings pointing to a defect in its FEB system. Further, they charge that the automaker has failed to recall the class vehicles or offer a suitable repair or compensation for incurred costs related to the problem.

Beasley Allen’s co-counsel in In re Nissan include Bursor & Fisher, P.A.; Bailey Glasser, LLP; Dicello Levitt Gutzler, LLC; and Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC.

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