The BMW Comfort Class Settlement seeks to permit Class Representatives to obtain reimbursement for out-of-pocket costs incurred due to spontaneous or unintended locking of the Comfort Access System.
In a class action, one or more people, called Class Representatives (in this case, plaintiff Kieva Myers), sue on behalf of all people who have similar claims and have suffered similar damages.
In August of 2015, Kieva Meyers purchased a pre-owned 2013 BMW X5 in San Francisco. Like many, she needed reliable transportation for her job and family. The 2013 X5 Meyers purchased was equipped with BMW’s Comfort Access System, a convenience feature that uses sensors to detect where the owner is in proximity to the vehicle. The system allows the driver to access the vehicle virtually hands-free within about a five-foot radius.
For example, once a driver walks up to the vehicle and puts their hand on the door, it will unlock automatically.
However, this convenience feature caused a scare for Meyers just two months later in October of 2015. This incident has become the catalyst for the Comfort Class settlement, a class-action lawsuit filed against BMW for an alleged manufacturing defect in the Comfort Access System. All BMW X5 models from 2007 until 2013 are affected.
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The settlement states that the Comfort Access System is defective because the doors can be locked from the outside even with the key fob still inside the vehicle. If small children, the elderly, or animals are left inside unintentionally with the key fob, they may become locked inside the vehicle. This can pose hazards that force the owner to take action, including but not limited to breaking into the vehicle and calling emergency personnel. This will likely result in out of pocket costs for the driver.
On October 19th 2015, Meyers opened the rear door of her X5 and placed her child inside. Unbeknownst to her, the remote key fob was still inside the vehicle as she shut the rear door. When Meyers went to open the driver’s side door, it was locked. Because her child was still inside, she was forced to break a window to open her X5.
According to the Comfort Class settlement, the Comfort Access System should prevent the vehicle from being locked. However, Meyers alleges that a defect allows the vehicle to lock even when the key is still inside. This can trap young children and others who are unable to unlock the doors by themselves.
After this incident, Meyers filed a complaint with BMW. A representative of the company responded in an e-mail saying, “we must be dealing either with a malfunction of the locking system or inadvertent activation of the locking system via either the remote transmitter or the Comfort Access System. Again, it is not impossible to lock a key in the vehicle — and to do so is not necessarily indicative of a malfunction. For example, if a door other than the driver’s door is open and the locking button on the transmitter is pressed, the vehicle will lock when the open door is closed. If the user is unaware of having pressed the locking button, then it would certainly appear that it had somehow locked itself.”
Meyers alleges that BMW knew of the problem in 2007 because an internal training document entitled “Comfort Access vs-42 je 66 04 04 (093).” The Comfort Class settlement pleads that, despite BMW’s knowledge and awareness of the defect, it failed to make repairs to resolve the issue, failed to modify owners’ manuals accordingly, and failed to pay for damages suffered by consumers as a result of the malfunction.
Statement From Legal Counsel
“When manufacturers get notified about major issues involving serious injury or in some cases death, it is the duty of the manufacturer to right the wrong they have committed and to make sure it is not repeated,” reads a statement from the Law Offices of Stephen M. Harris, P.C. and Robert L. Starr, APC in Woodland Hills and Calabasas, California respectively.
Harris and Starr are representing the plaintiffs in the Comfort Class settlement. The settlement guarantees that Class Members who have documented out-of-pocket expenses will be able to receive compensation from BMW.
“BMW was told multiple times about the Comfort Access System malfunction and denied the claim until the argument was too insurmountable to avoid,” the statement further reads.
If you own a BMW X5 in question, model years 2007 through 2013, you can find out more information about how to file a claim on the Comfort Class Settlement homepage. “Class Vehicles” include any BMW NA E70 vehicle made for sale and/or lease in the U.S. market, with a production date between October 1st, 2006 through June 30th, 2013, equipped with the optional Comfort Access System. The vehicles were sold or leased to Class Members in the United States or Puerto Rico.