— A Mercedes-Benz mold lawsuit alleges the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems don't properly drain or evaporate condensation that causes moldy odors from the growth of spores and bacteria.
With the passenger cabins allegedly filling with mold and other odors, the lawsuit alleges Mercedes offers only a temporary fix that always sends owners back to dealers.
According to the plaintiffs, the following vehicles have defects that cause mold and mildew odors from condensation, especially from the evaporators.
- 2001-2018 Mercedes C-Class
- 2000-2014 Mercedes CL-Class
- 2013-2018 Mercedes CLA-Class
- 2003-2009 Mercedes CLK-Class
- 2004-2018 Mercedes CLS-Class
- 2003-2018 Mercedes E-Class
- 2007-2016 Mercedes GL-Class
- 2017-2018 Mercedes GLS-Class
- 2010-2015 Mercedes GLK-Class
- 2016-2018 Mercedes GLC-Class
- 2006-2016 Mercedes M-Class
- 2017-2018 Mercedes GLE-Class
- 2015-2018 GLA-Class
- 2006-2015 Mercedes R-Class
- 1999-2018 Mercedes S-Class
- 2003-2012 Mercedes SL-Class
- 2004-2016 Mercedes SLK-Class
- 2002-2013 Maybach 57 and 62
Customers complain the smells typically occur when the air conditioning systems are activated, with some owners claiming the problem harms their health. In addition, the mold and mildew odors are allegedly even worse when the HVAC systems are activated in humid weather or after rain.
According to the plaintiffs, Mercedes dealers must repeatedly flush the systems, a job that requires part of the dashboard to be disassembled followed by technicians drilling holes in the HVAC systems.
Mercedes also allegedly tells dealerships to use a disinfectant on the evaporator coils and replace the cabin air filters. However, the mold lawsuit alleges replacing the cabin air filters is not a proper fix for the problem because the filters are “upstream” from the evaporators.
The plaintiffs also allege Mercedes forces customers to pay for repairs even when the vehicles are still under warranties and has never offered in-warranty fixes or offered reimbursements to owners.
According to the proposed class-action lawsuit, owners are harmed by various mold species that build up on the evaporators, including "Aspergillus/Pencillium, Ascospores, and Smut/Periconia/Myxomy."
"Said molds are known to secrete odorous mycotoxins such as Patulin, creating and contributing to the foul odors experienced by Plaintiffs and Class Members."
In addition to the health consequences of mold and mildew, the plaintiffs allege the heating and cooling systems don't provide the necessary efficiency for occupants because the evaporators clog due to contaminants.
The Mercedes mold lawsuit alleges the automaker has known about the odor problems since at least 2008 when a vehicle owner won a consumer arbitration legal case against Mercedes. In the 2008 action, (Fattah v. Mercedes-Benz USA, Inc.), the vehicle owner said musty odors emanated from air conditioning vents, something the automaker didn't deny.
According to testimony from Mercedes, the South Florida weather didn't help things because of high temperatures and humidity levels. But by the end, the arbitration board came down in favor of the Mercedes driver and "found that the odor substantially impaired the use, value and safety of the vehicle. Accordingly, the Consumer was awarded a refund."
According to the mold lawsuit, the arbitration board asked Mercedes about future repairs and the automaker admitted the customer would need to repeatedly visit dealers to have "fixes" performed as long as she owned the vehicle. According to case documents, one board member said the fix offered by Mercedes was nothing more than “a band-aid.”
In addition, the arbitration revealed the automaker received a “motor vehicle defect notification” after at least three repairs for the HVAC odors, meaning Mercedes must have known about the mold problems based on numerous customer complaints and dealer visits.
The Mercedes mold lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, Newark Division - Nicholas Biase, et al., v. Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC, et al.
The plaintiffs are represented by Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, Corpus Law Patel, and Wenzel Fenton Cabassa.
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