BALTIMORE, Md. (March 7, 2008)— A judicial panel has approved Michelin North America Inc.´s request to consolidate four class action suits against it and American Honda Motor Co. involving the Pax run-flat tire/wheel system.
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on Feb. 15 granted Michelin´s petition, which had been filed in federal district courts in Arizona, Illinois, Florida and New York. The panel´s action was routine for class actions, said Mark F. Anderson of the San Francisco law firm of Kemnitzer, Anderson, Barron, Ogilvie & Brewer, who is representing one of a number of plaintiffs in the case.
The litigants seek injunctive relief, damages and restitution on behalf of a projected class including owners of 2005-07 Honda Odyssey Touring and Acura RL models. The class is not limited to those consumers, however, according to the brief filed in Arizona.
All these vehicles had Michelin´s Pax run-flat tire/wheel system as original equipment. "The inclusion of the Pax system on these vehicles has resulted in widespread discontent, frustration and anger by class members," the suit alleges. "(Michelin and Honda) have affirmatively misrepresented the purported benefits of the Pax system and further concealed material information about the system."
Included in the information Honda and Michelin withheld, according to the suit, is that Pax tires need to be replaced as often as every 15,000 miles; that they are prohibitively expensive to repair or replace; and that there are not nearly enough Pax repair facilities, tires, wheels or rings to meet basic demand.
Two earlier class actions filed by other attorneys were dismissed in the Baltimore court late last year, according to a Michelin spokeswoman. The new consolidated cases will come before the same judge, she said.
"We find no merit to these cases, and we would expect a similar outcome," the spokeswoman said.
Anderson said he could not predict the court´s decision, because he has never before dealt with this particular judge. Besides the federal litigation, Anderson´s firm also is handling a state class action involving the Pax system before the Alameda County, Calif., district court, he said.
Michelin announced late last year that it decided to halt development of a new Pax system because of a lack of market demand.