FCA US, LLC Obtains Landmark Appellate Ruling

May 19, 2020 – Press Release

May 19, 2020 (Los Angeles, CA) – Hawkins Parnell & Young recently obtained a first of its kind ruling from the California Court of Appeal on behalf of FCA US, LLC. In 2018, Hawkins Parnell obtained a complete defense verdict in a Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty and fraud-failure to disclose trial in Los Angeles County. During the trial, the defense team was able to limit the testimony of Plaintiff’s expert, Anthony Micale. Plaintiff appealed the jury’s verdict, contending Mr. Micale’s opinions were improperly limited. Hawkins Parnell & Young represented FCA US in the appeal.

The Court of Appeal held that the trial court did not err by precluding Mr. Micale from testifying that the fuel pump relay was one of the possible causes of a claimed lack of power in plaintiff's vehicle. Micale neither provided any rational explanation how a fuel pump relay could have caused the power loss that occurred in plaintiff's vehicle nor did he provide any explanation for how a problem with the fuel pump relay could have caused an intermittent power loss both before and after the repair. Further, on cross-examination Micale admitted several times that the fuel pump relay was only a possible cause of the power loss. Therefore, the court held that the trial court did not err in excluding Micale’s opinion as speculative. The judgment in favor of FCA was affirmed. This is the first published appellate opinion discussing the application of Sargon to a lemon law case and is the first time an appellate court has upheld a limitation of Micale’s testimony.

This case is Waller v. FCA US LLC, B292524 (Cal. Ct. App. 2020).

For an in-depth analysis of how this ruling should be applied in all future lemon law matters in California, please click here.