11th Circuit Certifies Class of Cadillac Owners

     (CN) — The 11th Circuit affirmed the certification of a class of 2014 Cadillac CTS owners in a lawsuit claiming the car’s safety labeling was deceptive.
     In 2013 and early 2014, General Motors sold new 2014 Cadillac CTS sedans with a standard “Monroney” sticker in the window displaying the car’s safety information.
     The sticker showed that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had given the vehicle a five-star rating in three safety categories – risk of injury to the driver from a frontal crash, risk of injury to the passenger in a frontal crash, and risk of rollover.
     There are three other safety categories that were not listed on the sticker.
     But, “in fact, the NHTSA had not assigned any safety ratings to the 2014 Cadillac CTS at the time of sale to class members,” Tuesday’s ruling states, because the car had not yet been tested. (Emphasis in original).
     The NHTSA announced the car’s test results in August 2014. The CTS earned a five-star rating in five of the six safety categories, but a four-star rating for risk of injury to the passenger from a frontal crash, according to court records.
     A federal judge certified a class of Florida purchasers or leasers of a 2014 Cadillac CTS who claim sales of the car with false safety claims violated the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA).
     The 11th Circuit upheld the ruling Tuesday.
     “Each class member is connected by the common predominate inquiry: Did General Motors violate FDUTPA by affixing inaccurate Monroney stickers to 2014 Cadillac CTS sedans sold or leased in Florida?” Judge Stanley Marcus wrote for a three-judge panel.
     The Atlanta-based appeals court rejected General Motor’s assertion that individual conflicts over damages calculation will undermine the litigation of claims as a class.
     “The potential for individualized damages is not sufficient to defeat class certification under Florida law,” Marcus wrote. “A class member’s subjective sophistication or knowledge is irrelevant because the liability inquiry states objective elements. And the fact of resale is immaterial because the injury occurred when class members paid a price premium at the time of lease or purchase. None of these factors suffices as a fundamental conflict.”

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