2015 Honda Fit grinding

Honda Fit, 2015, with 28000 miles. Warranty expired Dec 2017. In October it started grinding with a cold start, but not always. Including the 2 days in Oct when I left it at the dealers. Intermittent grinding since then. Fast forward to May, 2018. Still grinding. Starter totally fails and is replaced. Next day, starter grinds (sounds like car us already on). Back to dealer who diagnoses actuator, covered under drive train warranty.

Question: dealer says starter failed on its own, no connection with the bad actuator. True? Possible?

I think Honda got a bunch of defective starters. https://www.carcomplaints.com/Honda/Fit/2015/electrical/starter_failure.shtml

What actuator? The solenoid in the starter?

If the oil drains from the variable valve timing actuator gear while the engine is off they can make a loud grinding or knocking noise upon start up, this can be mistaken as a starter motor noise.

Yes, it is definitely possible the starter motor could fail independent of a VVT actuator failure. Those two parts could both fail, and the failures would be almost always be unrelated. It sounds like you just had some bad luck there. Since both parts are now repaired, the best solution is to just drive on.