— A Toyota Camry class action lawsuit has survived a motion to dismiss the complaint that alleges the heating and air conditioning systems emit bad smells accompanied by toxic mold fumes.
According to the class action lawsuit, Toyota sold millions of 2012-2017 Camry and Camry Hybrid cars while knowing the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems were defective.
The automaker allegedly knew the systems didn't properly remove water and humidity, causing the systems to emit horrible odors that harm the health of car occupants. Camry owners claim mold has been a huge problem, and people allegedly sometimes refuse to ride in the cars due to the odors.
According to the lawsuit, Toyota must have known about the air conditioning odors due to customer complaints, internal testing, repair and warranty orders and technical service bulletins (TSBs) issued to dealerships.
One of those bulletins from 1997 said the Camry HVAC system could create a “musty odor . . . emitted from the air conditioning system of some vehicles which are usually operated in areas with high temperature and humidity.”
The TSB also said the problem was caused by a “[b]lockage of the evaporator housing drain pipe, resulting in the build up of condensate” or “[m]icrobial growth in the evaporator, arising from dampness in the evaporator housing where the cooling air flow is dehumidified.”
Later TSBs said a “newly designed evaporator sub-assembly [had] been made available to decrease the potential for HVAC odor” and that this repair was “covered under the Toyota Comprehensive Warranty . . . in effect for 36 months or 36,000 miles, whichever occurs first.”
Another bulletin explained the odors as “naturally occurring from the HVAC system and/or related environmental factors” and dealers were told there was “no way to eliminate these odors.”
The plaintiffs claim Toyota violated racketeering laws by committing mail and wire fraud, and according to the judge, the allegations must be taken as true at the dismissal stage.
The judge found the lawsuit sufficiently alleges a scheme by Toyota to defraud owners based on “'material misrepresentations' or the 'omission or concealment' of material facts from the Plaintiffs and the putative class members." The judge also ruled the lawsuit "sufficiently alleges a RICO enterprise," meaning racketeering claims can move forward.
However, Toyota will have its turn to refute the allegations.
"The Court emphasizes that at the dismissal stage, the Plaintiffs’ allegations are the ones given weight. To be sure, the Toyota Defendants will have the opportunity to present evidence at summary judgment or trial in support of their defenses."
The plaintiffs also prevailed with their claims Toyota violated Texas consumer protection laws and Florida unfair trade practice laws.
In the end, the judge dismissed about half the claims made by the plaintiffs, including claims of warranty and fraud violations.
The Toyota Camry class action lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida - Cardenas, et al., v. Toyota Motor Corporation, et al.
CarComplaints.com has complaints from drivers of Toyota Camry cars: