— A Mercedes-Benz airbag lawsuit alleges 18 people have been killed worldwide by defective Mercedes airbags while customers now wait months for replacement parts related to a 2017 recall of 495,000 vehicles in the U.S.
However, the proposed class-action lawsuit is not related to exploding airbags made by Takata.
Mercedes announced the recall in October 2017 after reports of driver-side frontal airbags inadvertently deploying, a problem engineers blamed on electrical grounding issues.
Mercedes told affected owners and lessees the airbags could suddenly deploy if insufficiently grounded components were exposed to an electrostatic discharge at the same time the steering column module clock spring was broken (due to wear). A driver could easily crash once they were slapped in the face with an airbag.
The automaker says unless the SRS warning light illuminates and a warning message appears in the instrument cluster, there is no issue with the airbag. If the light does activate, the vehicle should be taken to a Mercedes dealer to determine if the illuminated light is related to the recall.
Mercedes told affected owners that recall parts weren't available, parts that will be used to add more grounding to the steering components. Owners were told to watch for second notices once the required parts were in the hands of Mercedes technicians.
The proposed class-action lawsuit includes all consumers in the U.S. who have purchased or leased the following vehicles:
- 2014-2017 B-Class electric
- 2012-2018 C-Class
- 2012-2017 E-Class
- 2014-2018 CLA-Class
- 2015-2018 GLA-Class
- 2013-2018 GLK-Class
Plaintiff Michael Oppenheim says he leased a 2017 Mercedes-Benz E400A and learned in November about the airbag recall caused by electrical grounding issues.
The plaintiff was told Mercedes would repair the vehicle in December 2017, but then he received another letter that said the time to make repairs may be much longer. The plaintiff wasn't provided a new repair date, and now six months after the recall was announced Oppenheim says he is still waiting to hear when the automaker will repair the airbag problems.
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff paid more than $2,500 as a down payment and continues to pay nearly $770 per month in lease payments, all to drive a vehicle with an airbag that could kill him.
According to the plaintiff, Mercedes refuses to waive lease fees, offer loaner vehicles or offer customers other compensation. Making matters worse is the claims of how Mercedes is handling the recall, allegedly giving customers conflicting answers.
In one incident, the lawsuit alleges the plaintiff was told the airbag wasn't dangerous but could be repaired if the plaintiff paid separately for repairs.
Mercedes has allegedly been evasive to questions about the airbag recall and unable to provide a reliable date when repairs would be made, making it a "sham recall."
The Mercedes-Benz airbag lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California - Michael Oppenheim, et al., vs. Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC.
The plaintiff is represented by Geragos & Geragos.