Filed by Georgia residents Sunil Amin and Trushar Patel, the complaint asserts that Mercedes-Benz USA LLC and parent Daimler AG were aware for years that some of its Mercedes class vehicles were equipped with defective heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. These defects resulted in the accumulation of mold and mildew residue and the emission of a moldy or mildewy odor that permeated the vehicle cabin every time the HVAC system was turned on.
The plaintiffs contend that when they complained to Mercedes-Benz, about the smell coming through their vehicle's’ vents, the defendant offered meager “solutions” that were more like temporary “band aids” for the problem.
The company suggested a replacement of the cabin air filter, “flushing the system” and applying various cleaners, none of which fixed the original defective HVAC system design, the suit alleges. Further, vehicle owners or lessees were forced to pay out-of-pocket for those so-called fixes, even if their vehicles were still under warranty at the time, the complaint states.
“Mercedes has failed to provide a permanent in-warranty fix for the defect and failed to reimburse class members for the costs of its inadequate and temporary ‘solutions,’” the complaint states. “As a result of Mercedes’ alleged misconduct, plaintiffs and class members were harmed and suffered actual damages, in that the class vehicles have manifested, and continue to manifest, the HVAC system defect, and Mercedes has not provided a permanent remedy for this defect.”
Amin owns a 2013 Mercedes C250 Coupe, which he bought brand new in November 2012, and Patel a 2014 Mercedes E350 Sedan, which he bought new in January 2015. Both plaintiffs claim the noxious odors have began shortly after they bought their cars and have continued since.
According to the suit, Mercedes has known about the HVAC system defect at least as early as 2008, when a number of vehicle owners began filing complaints with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s Office of Defect Investigation. That is also the time when a class vehicle owner brought, and won, a consumer arbitration action in Florida against Mercedes for the defect, the complaint alleges.
The suit also notes that in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2016 Mercedes issued several technical service bulletins to its service centers discussing moldy smells emanating from the HVAC systems in various vehicles. These bulletins allegedly detailed cleaning procedures for how to deal with the issue.
The suit seeks class certification, effective long-term repairs as well as monetary damages for affected Mercedes-Benz owners and lessees, among other relief. The suit seeks to represent a class of Georgia purchasers and lessees of certain Mercedes vehicles, including some C-Class vehicles dating as far back as the 2000 model year, equipped with the alleged uniformly defective HVAC systems.
The plaintiffs are represented by Jonathan D. Selbin and Annika K. Martin of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP and Ketan A. Patel of Corpus Law Patel LLC. The case is Sunil Amin et al. v. Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC et al., case number 1:17-cv-01701, in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Georgia.