Defect alleged to affect tens if not hundreds of thousands of cars across the Mercedes-Benz vehicle line can cause rear subframes to rust or corrode, resulting in sudden, unexpected loss of control for the driver. In response to notice of imminent lawsuit, Mercedes announced a belated, inadequate warranty extension.
February 10, 2023, Atlanta, Georgia–(BUSINESSWIRE)–The law firms of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP and Corpus Law Patel LLC announce the filing of a federal automotive defect class action lawsuit in federal district court in Georgia against Mercedes-Benz USA LLC and Daimler AG alleging breach of warranty and violation of state and federal consumer fraud laws, relating to rust or corrosion of the subframe 2010-2022 models across the Mercedes-Benz vehicle line, including Classes C, E, GLK, G, CLS SLK/SLC, and SL.
As the complaint notes, plaintiffs brought the lawsuit to force Mercedes to warn consumers about a dangerous defect in the rear subframes of their vehicles, and compensate them for their damages arising from the defect. Plaintiffs allege that the vehicle subframes prematurely rust and corrode, costing consumers thousands of dollars in repairs that Mercedes has refused to cover. The rust and corrosion can adversely affect driveability, lead to corrosion of other components on the underside of the vehicles, or cause the rear subframes to fail while the vehicles are in motion. As a result, thousands of owners have paid out of pocket for repairs and related costs, while many more are still unknowingly driving unsafe vehicles.
The complaint further alleges that Mercedes has known of the defect for many years, including through consumer complaints made directly to Mercedes, complaints made to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s Office of Defect Investigation, and complaints posted on public online vehicle owner forums, as well as other internal sources unavailable to plaintiffs and their counsel without discovery. In addition, the complaint details that despite Mercedes’ refusal to acknowledge the defect or pay for the repairs it requires, Mercedes’ authorized dealers have told owners who complain that premature subframe corrosion is a common problem with Mercedes vehicles.
The complaint explains that, because corrosion occurs “from the inside out,” the defect is not apparent even to a trained mechanic until the rear subframe is dangerously corroded, near total failure, and has rendered the vehicle unsafe to operate. Replacing the rear subframe typically costs from $3,500 to more than $7,000.
Corpus Law Patel partner Ketan A. Patel, who represents the owners who are suing, emphasized: “This is a serious safety concern. Corrosion on the rear subframe makes the component and its attached suspension parts structurally unstable and prone to failure. And when the subframe fails while the vehicle is in motion, it can cause the rear of the vehicle to fishtail, the vehicle to suddenly veer to one side, or complete loss of control for the driver. It is important that all vehicle owners have the opportunity and the notice to have their vehicles inspected promptly and free of charge.”
Before filing the complaint, counsel for the owners informed Mercedes that a lawsuit was imminent and demanded relief. Two months after that letter was sent, and years after Mercedes allegedly knew of the defect, Mercedes finally today announced an extended warranty program to cover perforation and corrosion in certain of its vehicles.
Lieff Cabraser partner Jonathan D. Selbin, who also represents the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, responded to that development: “While we are glad Mercedes has finally acknowledged this common defect in its vehicles, we are disappointed that it waited years to do so and only took action after we informed them of our impending lawsuit. The relief it is saying it will provide is not adequate because it does not warn owners that they are at risk of significant and dangerous corrosion and need to get their vehicles professionally inspected. It also does not appear to reimburse owners for all of the expenses they incurred due the defect.”
The lawsuit seeks an order that Mercedes-Benz fully acknowledge the rear subframe defect in its vehicles, warn all owners affected by the defect, void any would-be limitations expressed in its vehicle warranties that would let it avoid responsibility for the defect, as well as injunctive relief requiring Mercedes to reassess all prior warranty claims related to the rear subframe defect, to refrain from further deceptive sales practices with respect to the affected vehicles, and to pay for inspection and all repair and related costs owners incurred as a result of the defect.
Learn more about the Mercedes Benz subframe defects lawsuit and your legal rights.
Jonathan D. Selbin
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP