Faulty Tires Claims May Run BMW Off the Road
(CN) - A man who says BMW and Bridgestone sell tires that "suffer catastrophic failure after mere months of use" may get to sue as a class, a federal judge ruled.
David Greene claims he noticed a bubble in his left-rear Potenza run-flat tire within six months of leasing a 2010 BMW 335i convertible from Paul Miller BMW in Wayne, N.J., on March 17, 2010.
Two tires on the car eventually developed three bubbles within 14 months of his lease and 14,000 miles, making for "an unbearably rough ride ... and excessively loud noise," according to the complaint.
Various BMW reps allegedly told Greene that he "was [in] a dangerous situation and that he should immediately replace" his tires, which were supposedly experiencing a "normal problem."
Because Paul Miller employees allegedly "callously" refused to "remedy the defects," and said that Greene's car could only accommodate Potenzas, he bought a new set on eBay.
Greene then filed a six-count putative class action complaint against Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, Bridgestone Americas and BMW of North America in 2011, claiming that they provided him with an unreliable and dangerous ride.
Potenzas are "prone to deflate, pop, or sustain bubbles from driving on a normal road," according to the complaint, which adds that "even a small puncture" cannot be repaired.
Greene says some Potenza-equipped BMWs get four or more flats annually.
The lessee hopes to represent a class in his $5 million action under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act and other statutes.
He filed an amended complaint in late 2012 after U.S. District Judge William Martini gutted the first action.
Bridgestone and BMW again moved to dismiss and strike the class allegations, but Greene fared better this time around.
The court refused to dismiss Greene's claims for breach of implied warranty of merchantability since the tires allegedly "suffer catastrophic failure after mere months of use," not years (emphasis added).
Martini did dismiss several other claims but said some of them can be refiled in another amended complaint.
"Greene argues that BMW 'engaged in the unlawful practice of deceiving, misrepresenting, and concealing that fact [that] the tires were problematic at the time of sale and lease of plaintiff and class members' BMW vehicles,'" Martini wrote. "But Greene does not allege that BMW knew with certainty that the tires would fail. Accordingly, Greene has failed to state a claim under the [New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act] NJCFA."
In tossing aside Greene's breach of contract claims, the judge noted that "Paul Miller BMW assigned the lease to BMW Financial, not BMW" or Bridgestone.
Greene's breach of warranty and good faith claims against the tire company also failed, as Greene did not bring his tires to an authorized Bridgestone retailer, the judgment states.
Bridgestone reportedly made $35 billion last year, while BMW reported about $100 billion in revenue in 2012.