Simmons Hanly Conroy Files Class Action Complaint against Nissan Motor Co. over Spontaneously Exploding, Panoramic Sunroofs

NEW YORK (Oct. 5, 2016) – Simmons Hanly Conroy, one of the nation’s largest law firms focused on consumer protection and mass tort actions, Monday filed a class action complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York against Nissan Motor Co. alleging that large glass panoramic sunroofs on some Nissan vehicles have spontaneously shattered. Simmons Hanly Conroy is co-counsel in the case with Greg Coleman Law PC of Knoxville, Tenn., a prominent class action firm.

The lawsuit claims that the shattering sunroofs pose a serious safety issue because many drivers report that the startling effect of the glass explosion causes accidents or near-miss accidents in addition to some drivers and passengers being cut by falling glass. According to the complaint, “The shattering occurs so powerfully that some startled drivers have compared the sound to a gunshot followed by shards of glass hitting the vehicle’s occupants.”

The action seeks national and state class certification, injunctive relief, and damages on behalf of plaintiffs and others who bought or leased 2008 to present Nissan Rogue, Maxima, Sentra, Pathfinder, and Altima models; 2009-2011 Muranos models; and 2011 to present Juke models with factory-installed panoramic sunroofs.

“Automobile manufacturers must be held accountable for defects that contribute to accidents and injury to drivers of their vehicles,” said Simmons Hanly Conroy Shareholder Paul Hanly, lead counsel for the plaintiffs in this case. “Consumers make safety a top priority when choosing the vehicles they drive and manufacturers have a responsibility to sell vehicles without defects that jeopardize the safety of drivers and their families.”

At least 60 owners of Nissan vehicles have reported to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) that the vehicle’s panoramic sunroofs have shattered. The complaint alleges Nissan has known about this problem since 2004 or earlier due to complaints to the NHTSA about defective sunroofs shattering in the 2003 Nissan Maxima’s “Skyview” sunroof. In 2004, Nissan issued a recall on the Maxima models to replace the “Skyview” sunrooms, but has issued no recalls since. In addition, the NHTSA is investigating Nissan and has requested information about its shattering panoramic sunroofs from 2006 to 2016.

Hanly added, “Despite the high number of complaints and knowing of the danger posed by the defective sunroofs, Nissan has made no effort to alert consumers of the potential risk.”

According to the complaint, sunroofs began evolving in the mid-2000s from what were modestly sized portions of the roof over the driver and front passenger seats, to those that cover almost the entire roof. The expanded sunroofs have posed new and significant engineering challenges because the required tempered glass plates take up much of the surface area of the vehicle’s roof, requiring precision in strengthening, attachment and stabilization.

Nissan has sold at least a million vehicles with the panoramic sunroof in the United States since 2007. Marketed as a luxury upgrade, the high-cost, panoramic sunroof option attracted the plaintiffs in this case, as well as others, to buy or lease Nissan vehicles over less expensive models without the panoramic sunroof.

The case is Subrina Seeraina, et al. v. Nissan North America, INC., Case No. 1:16-cv-05499; In the District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The named plaintiff in the case is Subrina Seeraina, of Schenectady, N.Y.

Simmons Hanly Conroy also is involved in pending litigation against Volkswagen on behalf of several thousand plaintiffs who were affected by the German automaker’s recent emissions scandal. In addition, Simmons Hanly Conroy Shareholder Jayne Conroy served as a member of the Lead Counsel Committee for Economic Loss Claims for the MDL involving the Toyota Motor Corp. unintended acceleration litigation.