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Subaru Class Action Lawsuit Filed Over Problems With Sudden Unintended Acceleration

According to allegations raised in a recently filed class action lawsuit, certain Subaru vehicles are prone to sudden unintended acceleration, which could result in an auto accident, serious injuries and even death.

The complaint (PDF) was filed by Suzanne Bare and Michael Nickel in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California on September 4, seeking class action status for uncontrollable acceleration problems associated with 2015-2019 Subaru Legacy, 2012-2018 Subaru Forester, and 2015-2019 Subaru Outback vehicles.

Two systems used in the affected vehicles may cause sudden unintended acceleration (SUA), according to the lawsuit. One is the Controller Area Network, or CAN bus, which contains software which plaintiffs say has a protocol flaw. The other system the lawsuit claims is a problem is the Subaru Brake Override System (BOS), which plaintiffs say is defective and does not work as intended, even though it was specifically added to the vehicles to prevent unexpected acceleration.

“While Class Vehicles should have been designed free of defects that could result in SUA events, the BOS failsafe system should also operate effectively to mitigate the effects of SUA events when they do occur,” the lawsuit notes. “Hundreds of consumers have lodged complaints with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and on consumer websites complaining of SUA events affecting their vehicles. Moreover, many of these drivers who attempted to mitigate the effects of sudden acceleration by depressing the brakes reported that doing so had no effect.”

The Subaru class action lawsuit notes that the auto maker has offered no recall or technical fix for the problems.

One of the lead plaintiffs, Bare, indicates she bough a certified pre-owned 2016 Subaru Legacy in July 2019. However, in January 2020 she was stopped with her foot on the brake and tried to put the vehicle in park when it suddenly accelerated out of control. Even with her foot firmly on the brake, the vehicle sped forward, smashing into a fence and causing $1,600 in damages.

The plaintiffs speculate that the CAN Bus, which prioritizes communications between the various vehicle systems without the need of a full computer, has a software flaw which causes problems with the electronic throttle control system that the BOS cannot handle, resulting in the system getting confused and accelerating the vehicle despite the drivers’ application of the brakes.

The lawsuit accuses Subaru of breach of warranty, unjust enrichment, violation of California consumer protection laws and unfair competition and business practice laws. The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages for the lead plaintiffs and others who purchased the vehicles.

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