North Carolina Business Litigation Report

Coker v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 2004 NCBC 1 (N.C. Super. Ct. Jan. 6, 2004)(Tennille), aff'd, 172 N.C. App. 386, 617 S.E.2d 306 (2005), aff'd per curiam, 360 N.C. 398, 627 S.E.2d 461 (2006)

In this class action against an automobile manufacturer, plaintiffs claimed that the manufacturer had committed fraud by advertising the safety of its vehicles even though they did not have a brake shift interlock system. Plaintiff sought damages -- even though they had suffered no injury as yet -- and an injunction ordering a recall of the vehicles.

The Court granted summary judgment because the only loss suffered by plaintiffs was theoretical loss in the value of their vehicles, and such a claim was barred by the economic loss doctrine. Allowing such a claim would have circumvented the contract warranty frameork.

The injunctive claim for a recall was preempted by the federal scheme of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966. The Court further ruled that the doctrine of primary jurisdiction, which required it to defer to the administrative agency responsible for claims involving design defects in automobiles, barred it from considering this claim.

Full Opinion

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Mack Sperling
Brooks Pierce, LLP
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