Madison - St. Clair Record

Monday, February 17, 2020

Reagan seals motion to certify UConnect class action against Chrysler

By The Madison County Record | Oct 31, 2017

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EAST ST. LOUIS – Without explanation, on a motion from former U.S. attorney Stephen Wigginton, U.S. District Judge Michael Reagan sealed a motion to certify a class action against Chrysler. 

Reagan sealed the class certification motion and 36 exhibits with it on Oct. 19, by docket entry rather than written decision. 

He rejected Chrysler’s plea to post it for the public with redactions. 

Wigginton represents Brian Flynn, a Belleville lawyer who claims remote hackers can seize control of his Jeep. 

Flynn blames an optional communication device, UConnect, for the vulnerability. 

He sued Chrysler in 2015, along with UConnect maker Harman International. 

The suit alleges negligence, misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, and warranty violations under state and federal law. 

Flynn seeks to recover for risk of harm or fear of risk. 

He claims he paid too much for the Jeep and would sell it for too little. He proposes a national recall, arguing that Chysler performed an inadequate one. 

His suit followed publication of an article in Wired magazine, describing successful hacking through UConnect on a closed course. 

Last year, Reagan dismissed the negligence claim with prejudice and denied the recall petition with prejudice. 

He dismissed the claim of misrepresentation without prejudice, and dismissed the claim of risk and fear without prejudice. 

He also dismissed warranty claims against Harman International without prejudice. 

The claim of unjust enrichment remains pending against Chrysler and Harman, and warranty claims remain pending against Chrysler. 

Wigginton amended the complaint, but Chrysler and Harman answered that he merely revived claims that Reagan dismissed. 

On Oct. 13, Wigginton moved to file under seal a memorandum for a class certification motion with all exhibits. 

Wigginton wrote that he acted out of an abundance of caution, as defendants had designated the vast majority of documents as confidential. 

Chrysler counsel Kathy Wisniewski, of Thompson Coburn in St. Louis, opposed the motion on Oct. 16. 

“Plaintiffs once again have displayed either no ability, or simply no desire, to discern what information in their filings is confidential and what is not,” Wisniewski wrote. 

She wrote that if plaintiffs had a genuine question as to whether portions of the memorandum could be deemed confidential, they could have picked up a phone. Because they elected not to do so, she wrote, it would be difficult if not impossible to discern what plaintiffs culled from confidential documents. 

“[O]f course only plaintiffs can attest where they uncovered the information on which they rely,” she wrote. 

She wrote that the motion to seal should be granted to the extent the memorandum and exhibits reflect confidential information. 

She wrote that Chrysler would not embrace a broad brush approach to sealing when it opposes class certification. 

Three days later Reagan posted on the docket that, “Plaintiffs’ motion for leave to seal motion for class certification and memorandum in support is granted.” 

“Plaintiffs are granted leave to file unredacted versions of their motion to certify class and memorandum in support thereof,” he wrote. 

Reagan has set trial in May. 

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Organizations in this Story

Whitton Law GroupArmstrong TeasdaleFiat Chrysler Automobiles