Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog
Vehicle Air Conditioning Mold Defects

Lieff Cabraser and Co-Counsel File Nationwide Federal Fraud Lawsuit Over Mercedes-Benz A/C Mold Defects

Lieff Cabraser and Corpus Law Patel have filed a consumer fraud class action lawsuit against Mercedes-Benz USA and Daimler AG in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey on behalf of all persons in the U.S. who purchased or leased certain Mercedes-Benz vehicles equipped with an allegedly defective air conditioning system.

The lawsuit claims the vehicles in question, which include numerous model years of Mercedes C-Class, CL-Class, CLA-Class, CLK-Class, CLS-Class, E-Class, GL-Class, GLS-Class, GLK-Class, GLC-Class, M-Class, GLE-Class, GLA-Class, R-Class, S-Class, SL-Class, SLK-Class, and Maybach 57 and 62, have a faulty design that, during normal and expected conditions, fails to properly evaporate or drain the accumulated system condensation, creating a rich environment for the growth of bacteria, fungi, mold, and spores, which then are blown into the passenger cabin when the AC System is in use. The mold-carrying air has a highly unpleasant noxious and mildewy smell that cause the vehicles’ passenger cabins to be unbearable and thus unusable for their intended purpose, and can also cause respiratory problems and aggravate allergies.

Of further significance, and as alleged in the Complaint, the vile moldy air emitted by the defective AC (also known as HVAC) system is categorically not a one-time event in the affected vehicles – owners and lessees report the noxious emissions enter the vehicle cabins every time the AC System is turned on, and are especially pervasive in humid weather or after it has rained.

As the Complaint further details, when owners and lessees complain to Mercedes about the HVAC system defect, Mercedes’s only “solutions” are replacement of the cabin air filter or “flushing the system,” both of which are only temporary and do not address the defective HVAC system design, and thus are not permanent fixes for the defect. What is worse, Mercedes makes owners and lessees pay out-of-pocket for these temporary “fixes” for the HVAC system defect even if their vehicles are still under warranty at the time. The widespread Mercedes AC system defect therefore directly inhibits owners’ and lessees’ proper and comfortable use of their Mercedes-Benz vehicles, and requires them to pay for repeated and ongoing non-warranty and temporary fixes.

“For Mercedes-Benz cars to regularly and repeatedly create an internal passenger breathing space that is disgusting, foul, and filled with mold, bacteria, and fungal growths is a staggering betrayal of its so-called ‘luxury’ brand,” stated Lieff Cabraser partner Annika K. Martin, counsel for the plaintiffs in the case. “Customers should not be paying top-dollar for cars touting ‘luxury and performance’ that require ongoing flushing and filtering costs not covered by any warranty just to remain habitable for normal driving.”

The Complaint alleges that Mercedes knew of the HVAC system defect through a myriad of sources including pre-release evaluation and testing, arbitration actions, repair data, replacement part sales data, early consumer complaints made directly to Mercedes (collected by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s Office of Defect Investigation (“NHTSA ODI”), and/or posted on public online vehicle owner forums, testing done in response to those complaints, aggregate data from Mercedes dealers, and other internal sources. Yet despite this knowledge, Mercedes failed to disclose and in fact actively concealed the AC system defect from owners/lessees and the public, and continued to market and advertise the affected vehicles as “sophisticated,” “comfortable,” and “state-of-the-art” vehicles, which they are not.

The long and detailed model and year list of Mercedes-Benz vehicles suffering from the AC defect includes the 2001-2018 Mercedes C-Class, 2000-2014 Mercedes CL-Class, 2013-2018 Mercedes CLA-Class, 2003-2009 Mercedes CLK-Class, 2004-2018 Mercedes CLS-Class, 2003-2018 Mercedes E-Class, 2007-2016 Mercedes GL-Class, 2017-2018 Mercedes GLS-Class, 2010-2015 Mercedes GLK-Class, 2016-2018 Mercedes GLC-Class, 2006-2016 Mercedes M-Class, 2017-2018 Mercedes GLE-Class, 2015-2018 GLA-Class, 2006-2015 Mercedes R-Class, 1999-2018 Mercedes S-Class, 2003-2012 Mercedes SL-Class, 2004-2016 Mercedes SLK-Class, and 2002-2013 Maybach 57 and 62.

“When consumers make significant investments in a luxury Mercedes-Benz car, they should be able to count on the Mercedes-Benz name delivering vehicles that function in a comfortable and usable fashion,” notes Corpus Law Patel partner Ketan Patel, another attorney representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. “They should not have to engage in costly and ongoing stopgap fixes just to leave their vehicles driveable – this is an abuse of consumer trust for which Mercedes must be held accountable.”

This nationwide lawsuit follows earlier similar lawsuits filed in California and Georgia alleging similar class action complaints on Mercedes-Benz vehicles. The new national complaint lists causes of action for breach of warranty, fraudulent concealment, unjust enrichment, violations of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, violations of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, violations of New York General Business Law, violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act and the Illinois Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act, violations of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, and seeks declaratory and injunctive relief as well as damages in an amount to be proven at trial.

Read a copy of the Complaint.

About Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP

Recognized as “one of the nation’s premier plaintiffs’ firms” by The American Lawyer, Lieff Cabraser is a national plaintiffs’ law firm with offices in Nashville, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle. We have successfully prosecuted scores of product defect class action lawsuits against many of the largest U.S. manufacturers and corporations. Working with co-counsel, we have achieved judgments and settlements in excess of $19 billion for consumers in these cases.

About Corpus Law Patel

Corpus Law Patel is a Plaintiffs’ firm in Atlanta, committed to assisting those who have been harmed by the negligence of individuals or product manufacturers. Attorney Ketan Patel has recovered over 10 million dollars for his clients and has experience in catastrophic injury and death cases; as well as mass tort, and medical and consumer product liability cases.

Source/Contact

Annika K. Martin
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP
212 355-9500
akmartin@lchb.com

Ketan Patel
Corpus Law Patel
678 597-8020
kp@personalinjury-ga.com