S&C Prevails for Audi, Volkswagen and FCA in Dismissal of RICO Claims Involving Takata Airbags

March 18, 2021

Two sets of S&C clients—FCA US LLC; and Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., and Audi of America, LLC—prevailed in their motions to dismiss RICO and other claims brought by automotive part recyclers in a multidistrict litigation arising from the recall of vehicles equipped with Takata airbags. On March 9, U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno of the Southern District of Florida dismissed the claims against these defendants for lack of personal jurisdiction, with prejudice.
Plaintiffs purported to assert claims under the RICO Act, the Lanham Act, and the consumer-protection statutes of five states, as well as claims of common-law fraud. Many of these claims were brought for the first time in two complaints filed directly in the MDL court, which were later consolidated with separate transferred-in actions.
Judge Moreno agreed with the FCA and Volkswagen/Audi defendants that the plaintiffs failed to plead personal jurisdiction in Florida to support their state law claims. Judge Moreno also accepted FCA's alternative argument, dismissing all claims against FCA for the reason that none of the “transferor complaints” were filed in districts where FCA is subject to general personal jurisdiction. Judge Moreno likewise dismissed the RICO claims against all defendants, which foreclosed plaintiffs from establishing jurisdiction through RICO's nationwide service of process provision.
The S&C team representing Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, Volkswagen Group of America and Audi of America included Bob Giuffra, Suhana Han, Chris Dunne and Scott O'Brien, with Suhana Han arguing the motion on behalf of the Volkswagen/Audi defendants.
The S&C team representing FCA US included Brian Glueckstein, Matt Porpora, Liz Rose, Akash Toprani and Jackson Froliklong, with Matt Porpora arguing the motion on behalf of FCA.