Uncapped settlement will provide reimbursement for qualified past repairs and all or part of the cost of future repairs to owners and lessees of approximately 2.5 million Mercedes-Benz vehicles affected by the alleged HVAC system mold and mildew defects
Lieff Cabraser and Corpus Law Patel announce U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg has granted final approval to a nationwide settlement between vehicle owners/lessees and Mercedes-Benz to end the class action product defect litigation over claims that certain Mercedes-Benz vehicles were affected by HVAC system defects that led to noxious odors inside the vehicles that could be severe enough to render the luxury vehicles unfit for driving.
“This was a hard-fought litigation, and this settlement is a terrific result for Mercedes drivers,” stated Annika K. Martin, Lieff Cabraser partner and one of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs in the case. “The case is a great example of consumers banding together to get results that would be next to impossible on an individual basis – results not just for themselves, but for all drivers of the affected cars across the U.S.”
In May of 2016, plaintiffs filed a class action complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California alleging that the HVAC systems in certain Mercedes-Benz vehicles are claimed defective in that, during normal and expected conditions, the HVAC System fails to properly evaporate or drain the condensation that accumulates within the system, creating a moist, hospitable environment for the growth of bacteria, fungus, mold, and spores, which then are blown into the passenger cabin when the HVAC System is in use. Related actions were also filed in federal courts in Georgia and New Jersey, with the settlement being filed in the Northern District of Georgia, followed by numerous dispositive motions and conducted discovery as the litigation moved forward including to mediation. That mediation led in turn to the settlement first announced in December 2019 that will provide owners and lessees of affected Mercedes-Benz vehicles with reimbursement for qualified past repairs and all or part of the cost of future repairs of the HVAC systems.
The case involved what plaintiffs alleged was faulty design and manufacture of the affected Mercedes-Benz vehicles. The complaints posited that Mercedes designed HVAC systems that failed to properly drain accumulated condensation within the system, creating a moist environment hospitable to the growth of bacteria, fungus, mold, and spores, which were subsequently blown into the passenger cabin when the HVAC system was in use. This moldy air has a foul, mildew smell that is highly unpleasant and can aggravate respiratory system sensitivities. Owners and lessees have either paid hundreds of dollars to clean their HVAC systems, or are likely to need to do so in the future. The vehicles come from numerous model years of Mercedes C-Class, CLS-Class, E-Class, GL-Class, GLS-Class, GLK-Class, GLC-Class, M-Class, GLE-Class, and GLA-Class, vehicles.
“We’re very pleased that after years of uncertainty over this defect,” noted Ketan Patel of Corpus Law Patel, who also represents the plaintiffs, “lessees and owners will finally be afforded warranty benefits in order to once again enjoy the use of their vehicles. It’s gratifying to be able to bring justice and restitution not just to a few named individuals, but to a very large group of similarly-affected Mercedes-Benz owners and lessees.”
Notice information was previously provided to the class members regarding the timing and duration of the claims period on the settlement website at mercedeshvacsettlement.com.
Annika K. Martin
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP