Mercedes named in class action lawsuit over sale of “BlueTEC Clean Diesel” vehicles for emitting more pollutants than allowed by federal and state laws

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The complaint alleges that in the wake of the major scandal involving Volkswagen and Audi diesel vehicles evading emissions standards with the help of certain software that turns off emissions controls when the vehicles are not being tested, reports now indicate that Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC’s (Mercedes)’ so called “Clean Diesel” vehicles emit far more pollution on the road than in lab tests. Real world testing has recently revealed that these vehicles emit dangerous oxides of nitrogen (NOx) at a level more than 65 times higher than the United States Environmental Protection Agency permits. The Mercedes “Clean Diesel” turns out to be far from “clean.”

Diesel engines pose a difficult challenge to the environment because they have an inherent trade-off between power, fuel efficiency, and emissions. Compared to gasoline engines, diesel engines generally produce greater torque, low-end power, better drivability and much higher fuel efficiency. But these benefits come at the cost of much dirtier and more harmful emissions.

One by-product of diesel combustion is NOx, which generally describes several compounds comprised of nitrogen and oxygen atoms. These compounds are formed in the cylinder of the engine during the high temperature combustion process. NOx pollution contributes to nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter in the air, and reacts with sunlight in the atmosphere to form ozone. Exposure to these pollutants has been linked with serious health dangers, including serious respiratory illnesses and premature death due to respiratory-related or cardiovascular-related effects. The United States Government, through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has passed and enforced laws designed to protect United States citizens from these pollutants and certain chemicals and agents known to cause disease in humans. Automobile manufacturers must abide by these U.S. laws and must adhere to EPA rules and regulations.

In order to produce a diesel engine that has desirable torque and power characteristics, good fuel economy, and emissions levels low enough to meet the stringent European and United States governmental emission standards, Mercedes developed the BlueTEC™ diesel engine. The BlueTEC name is a general trade name used to describe a number of in-cylinder and after-treatment technologies used to reduce emissions. The primary emission control after-treatment technologies include a diesel particulate filter (DPF) and a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system. The DPF traps and removes particulate (soot) emissions, while the SCR system facilitates a chemical reaction to reduce NOx into less harmful substances, such as nitrogen and oxygen.

In order to appeal to environmentally conscious consumers, Mercedes vigorously markets its BlueTEC vehicles as “the world’s cleanest and most advanced diesel” with “ultralow emissions, high fuel economy and responsive performance” that emits “up to 30% lower greenhouse-gas emissions than gasoline.” Mercedes represents that its BlueTEC vehicles “convert[] the nitrogen oxide emissions into harmless nitrogen and oxygen” and “reduces the nitrogen oxides in the exhaust gases by up to 90%.”

Additionally, Mercedes promotes its Clean Diesel vehicles as “Earth Friendly”: “With BlueTEC, cleaner emissions are now an equally appealing benefit.” In fact, Mercedes proclaims itself “#1 in CO2 emissions for luxury vehicles.”

These representations are deceptive and false. Mercedes has programmed its BlueTEC vehicles to turn off the NOx reduction systems when ambient temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Mercedes has admitted that a shut-off device in the engine management of certain BlueTEC diesel cars stops NOx cleaning under these and other, unspecified circumstances. On-road testing has confirmed that Mercedes’ so-called “Clean Diesel” cars produced NOx emissions at an average of 603 mg/km, which is 7.5 times the Euro 6 standard and 19 times higher than the U.S. standard. Some instantaneous NOx values were as high as 2000 mg/km—25 times the Euro 6 standard and 65 times higher than the U.S. limit.

As alleged, Mercedes manufactures, designs, markets, sells, and leases certain “BlueTEC Clean Diesel” vehicles as if they were “reduced emissions” cars that comply with all applicable regulatory standards, when in fact, these Mercedes vehicles are not “clean diesels” and emit more pollutants than allowed by federal and state laws—and far more than their gasoline fueled counterparts. On information and belief, Plaintiffs allege that the following Mercedes models powered by BlueTEC diesel fueled engines are affected by the unlawful, unfair, deceptive, and otherwise defective emission controls utilized by Mercedes: ML 320, ML 350, GL 320, E320, S350, R320, E Class, GL Class, ML Class, R Class, S Class, GLK Class, GLE Class, and Sprinter (the Affected Vehicles).

Mercedes did not previously disclose to Plaintiffs, consumers, or U.S. regulatory authorities that, when the temperature falls below 50 degrees, the Affected Vehicles spew unmitigated NOx into the air.

Mercedes never disclosed to consumers that Mercedes diesels with BlueTEC engines may be “clean” diesels when it is warm, but are “dirty” diesels when it is not. Mercedes never disclosed that, when the temperature drops below 50 degrees, it prioritizes engine power and profits over people.

Plaintiffs bring this action individually and on behalf of all other current and former owners or lessees of Affected Vehicles. Plaintiffs seek damages, injunctive relief, and equitable relief for Mercedes’ misconduct related to the design, manufacture, marketing, sale, and lease of Affected Vehicles with unlawfully high emissions

COMPLAINT

Mercedes named in class action lawsuit over defect in the 722.9 7G-Tronic automatic transmission

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Plaintiffs bring this action on behalf of themselves and all other similarly situated owners and lessees in California of Mercedes Benz automobiles equipped with the 722.9 7G-Tronic automatic transmission.  As detailed in the complaint, the subject transmission is defective, having a defect in the transmission’s valve body and conductor plate that causes the transmission to fail prematurely and need replacement well before the useful life of the transmission or the vehicle in which it is housed.

As alleged, Defendant Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC (“MBUSA” or “Defendant”) has known about this defect for years, circulating internal Technical Service Bulletins to its factory-authorized dealerships that detail the nature of the transmission problem. Indeed, the defective 722.9 transmission has failed to such a widespread extent that, at one point, MBUSA was unable to supply sufficient replacement transmission components to have the defective transmissions repaired and, as a result, for a long time, MBUSA prevented independent service stations from purchasing such replacement parts.   Worse yet, when the transmission valve body or conductor plate fails in the Mercedes-Benz 722.9 transmission, a real safety hazard ensues.  As a result of the defect, the transmission will have a difficult time shifting from first to second gear, and will not shift to higher gears, causing the vehicle to be unable to be driven at any speed.  The fault will then cause the transmission to enter what is referred to as “Limp Mode,” leaving the car to “limp” along the roadway in a very restricted and limited fashion.   Despite this and despite the clear defect and Defendant’s knowledge of it, MBUSA has failed to take any action.  Because the defective transmission typically manifests itself outside the 4 year/50,000 mile durations limit of MBUSA’s New Vehicle Limited Warranty, MBUSA washes its hands of any liability, fails to disclose this defect, and leave consumers of the affected vehicles, like Plaintiffs, to pay for the costly repair of the transmission to the tune of several thousands of dollars.

Plaintiffs, who own a 2007 Mercedes-Benz S-550 originally equipped with the defective 722.9 transmission suffered this fate, had their vehicle’s transmission fail repeatedly on the roadway when the car had just 57,000 miles or so, and were denied any consideration by MBUSA.   Given MBUSA’s failure to stand behind its product, Plaintiffs were forced to and did pay over $2,000 to have the transmission valve body replaced.  Needless to say, transmissions in cars having only 57,000 miles should not fail—much less should they fail by the thousands in Mercedes-Benz cars across the country.  Plaintiffs file this lawsuit to seek redress for MBUSA’s violations of the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act (“CLRA”) and California’s Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”).

MBUSA Complaint

Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC. Investigated over loss of rear tail light functionality

NHTSA Office of Defects Investigation received 21 reports of rear light assembly failure due to a melted electrical connector or housing. Since opening the initial investigation ODI has received a total of 114 complaints reflecting an ongoing and increasing trend. In each report, one or both rear light assemblies fail completely (i.e., all lights housed within the assembly extinguish, including the stop, tail, and turn signal functions) when the electrical ground connection is compromised as a result of high resistance and subsequent thermal over-heating. According to Mercedes-Benz, the over-heating of the ground wire is caused by corrosion between the connectors in the ground circuit to the tail light. ODI is aware of a total of 5 reports alleging fire including one injury allegation as a result of this issue. Analysis of subject vehicle complaint data indicates an increased likelihood of failure as the vehicles age. NHTSA’s Preliminary Evaluation (PE13-026) has been upgraded to an Engineering Analysis to further assess the risks and frequency resulting from failure of rear lighting assemblies in the subject vehicles.

Mercedes-Benz USA sued over alleged defect in 2003- 2009 W211 gasoline E-Class Mercedes-Benz vehicles

Mercedes-Benz USA (“MBUSA”) was sued in a class action on behalf of Texas, Virginia and Georgia owners of 2003- 2009 W211 gasoline E-Class Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

Plaintiffs bring the action to remedy Defendants’ unlawful actions in connection with the design, manufacture, marketing, distribution, and sale of these vehicles.  As alleged, due to undisclosed defects in the fuel tank, fuel sending unit, and evaporation tubes, the vehicles in question have underlying problems that result in gasoline vapor leaks inside the vehicle cabin and liquid gasoline leaks outside of the vehicle.

Daimler designed and manufactured over 300,000 gasoline E-Class vehicles for model years 2003-2009, which were shipped to the United States and sold by MBUSA. The models include the E350, E500, E550, E55 AMG, and E63 AMG.

Due to defects in the design and/or manufacturing, the vehicles at issue are prone to emit gasoline fumes into the cabin and leak raw gasoline from the gas tank outside of the vehicle. The defect is contained in or around the evaporation tubes located in the gasoline tank, which causes either or both the gasoline fumes to emanate from the tank and the liquid gasoline to leak out of the tank The gasoline leaks from the evaporation tubes and pools on top of the fuel sending units. Vehicle owners have also experienced raw gasoline pool underneath their vehicles. Others have had interior rear seats ruined by leaking gasoline. Owners have also experienced strong odors of gasoline in the closed confines of the vehicle cabins.

  •  Class:  All current and former former owners and lessees of 2003-2009 Mercedes-Benz E350, E500, E550, E55 AMG, and E63 AMG that reside in Texas, Virginia or Georgia