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Danan v. American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

February 21, 2018

Naser Danan, Plaintiff,
v.
American Honda Motor Co., Inc., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER

          PATRICIA A. GAUGHAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         INTRODUCTION

         This matter is before the Court upon Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 26). Also pending is Defendant American Honda Motor Co., Inc.'s Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 27). This case arises out of plaintiff's purchase of a vehicle. For the reasons that follow, the motions are DENIED, with the exception of defendant's motion as it pertains to count four. Defendant is entitled to summary judgment with respect to that count.

         FACTS

         Plaintiff Naser Danan filed this lawsuit against American Honda Motor Co., Inc., alleging that the vehicle he purchased is defective. The facts of this case are largely undisputed.

         In August of 2013, plaintiff purchased a 2013 Acura ZDX.[1] At the time of purchase the vehicle's odometer registered 380 miles. The vehicle is subject to a manufacturer's warranty. Plaintiff purchased the vehicle for a total sales price of $58, 783.11. Shortly after receiving the vehicle, plaintiff noticed that various internal lighting features would not illuminate and the heated seats would not function. Plaintiff contacted the dealership and brought the vehicle in for service. Defendant discovered that a blown fuse and pinched wire were the source of the electrical problems.

         On September 6, 2013, plaintiff brought the vehicle to the dealership to address intermittent rattling and ticking noises, as well as vibrations from the vehicle's roof and rear tail gate area. In addition, plaintiff indicated that the head lights intermittently turned on during the day when the headlights were set to “auto.” During the test drive, the technicians were able to confirm the noises, which occurred at highway speeds. The technicians made various repairs and conducted several test drives of the vehicle. The noises, however, continued. Ultimately, after additional repairs, the repair records show that the nosie was fixed.

         The following week, plaintiff returned to the dealer for a ticking noise from the roof area. The dealer confirmed the noise and determined that a stripped screw existed at the license plate garnish. The vehicle was repaired and the technician did not hear the noise after the repair.

         On November 1, 2013, plaintiff brought the vehicle in for a rattle emanating from the moonroof area. In addition, certain weatherstripping needed to be replaced. During a test drive with the customer, the rattle could not be duplicated. The dealer, however, replaced the weatherstripping.

         The following month, plaintiff returned to the dealer because of the rattling noise. The dealer test drove the vehicle on a number of occasions. It appears that out of five test drives, the rattle was heard only once. No. repairs were made.

         On March 10, 2014, plaintiff brought the vehicle in because of noises coming from the sunroof while driving over bumps. In addition, the dome lights and homelink system were not functioning. The dealer replaced a fuse and the lights and homelink system worked. During a test drive of the vehicle, the dealer confirmed various noises coming from the moonroof. A new moonroof assembly was installed and, according to the invoice, the noise ceased and was not detected upon further test drive.

         Approximately two weeks later, however, the dome light and homelink system again became inoperable. The dealer determined there was a short in the system and performed repairs.

         All of these repairs occurred during the first year of ownership. During this time, the vehicle was out for service for over forty days. The noise continues to exist today. Plaintiff took the vehicle to a different authorized dealer at least twice and, on both occasions, the technicians verified plaintiff's complaint. Plaintiff nonetheless drove the vehicle for nearly 40, 000 miles during the forty-one month period after purchase.

         Thereafter, plaintiff filed this lawsuit in state court. Plaintiff later dismissed that case and refiled the matter here. The complaint contains four claims for relief. Count one is a claim for violation of Ohio's lemon law, O.R.C. § 1345.72, and count two is a claim for violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (“MMWA”). Count three is a claim for breach of warranty and count four asserts a claim for “revocation of acceptance.” The parties cross-move on all claims and each opposes the other's motion.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Summary Judgment is appropriate when no genuine issues of material fact exist and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)); see also LaPointe v. UAW, Local 600, 8 F.3d 376, 378 (6th Cir. 1993). The burden of showing the absence of any such genuine issues of material facts rests with the moving party:

[A] party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of “the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, ” if any, which it believes demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.

Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323 (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). A fact is “material only if its resolution will affect the outcome of the lawsuit.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Accordingly, the nonmoving party must present “significant probative evidence” to demonstrate that “there is [more than] some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Moore v. Philip Morris Cos., Inc., 8 F.3d 335, 340 (6th Cir.1993). The nonmoving party may not simply rely on its pleading, but must “produce evidence that results in a conflict of material fact to be solved by a jury.” Cox v. Kentucky Dep't. of Transp., 53 F.3d 146, 150 (6th Cir. 1995).

         The evidence, all facts, and any inferences that may permissibly be drawn from the facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); Eastman Kodak Co. v. Image Technical Servs., Inc., 504 U.S. 451, 456 (1992). However, “[t]he mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the plaintiff's position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the plaintiff.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.

         Summary judgment should be granted if a party who bears the burden of proof at trial does not establish an essential element of his case. Tolton v. American Biodyne, Inc., 48 F.3d 937, 941 (6th Cir. 1995) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322). Moreover, if the evidence is “merely colorable” and not “significantly probative, ” the court may decide the legal issue and grant summary judgment. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50 (citation omitted).

         ANALYSIS

         1. Count one (lemon law claim)

         In count one, plaintiff asserts a claim for violation of O.R.C. §1345.72, which provides in relevant part:

Duty to repair nonconforming new motor vehicles; consumer's options when repairs unsuccessful.
(A) If a new motor vehicle does not conform to any applicable express warranty and the consumer reports the nonconformity to the manufacturer, its agent, or its authorized dealer during the period of one year following the date of original delivery or during the first eighteen thousand miles of operation, whichever is earlier, the manufacturer...shall make any repairs as are necessary to conform the vehicle to such express warranty....

         In the event the manufacturer is unable to conform the vehicle to the warranty, the consumer may opt for a new vehicle or return the vehicle for a refund plus incidental damages. O.R.C. § 1345.72(B). The statute defines “nonconformity” to mean “any defect or condition that substantially impairs the use, value, or safety of a motor vehicle to the consumer and does not ...


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