— A Mercedes sunroof lawsuit has been dismissed after the plaintiff failed to convince the judge the panoramic sunroofs shatter because they are defective.
In November 2019, Illinois plaintiff Bruce Pickens bought a used 2015 Mercedes-Benz ML350, but in March 2020 his sister was driving the vehicle when the sunroof exploded.
The driver says she heard a loud sound like a gunshot and pulled the car to the side of the road where she inspected the exterior but found no damage. When she got back in the car, the sunroof glass allegedly shattered and collapsed into the car.
According to the Mercedes sunroof lawsuit, Mercedes “received other complaints concerning the unexpected and sudden explosion of its sunroof prior to [Pickens’s] sunroof exploding.” However, none of these complaints concerned the model Pickens purchased.
The Mercedes-Benz sunroof class action lawsuit also references a sunroof recall from January 2020. The Mercedes sunroof recall said the “bonding between the glass panel and the sliding roof frame may deteriorate, possibly resulting in the glass panel detaching from the vehicle,” and thereby “becom[ing] a road hazard.”
However, the recall had nothing to do with sunroofs that shattered or exploded, and the recall didn't include the model owned by the plaintiff.
According to the Mercedes sunroof lawsuit, the plaintiff's sunroof shattered due to a “design defect,” and the automaker was the sole party responsible for the design of the vehicle.
Mercedes Files Motion to Dismiss the Sunroof Lawsuit
Mercedes-Benz argues express warranty claims must be dismissed because the plaintiff alleges the vehicles “have one or more serious design defects.” However, both warranties cover only “defects in material or workmanship" and both warranties exclude “glass.”
According to Judge Thomas M. Durkin, Pickens has no claim under either of the express warranties.
Mercedes also contends the new car warranty expired before the sunroof glass broke, and the plaintiff never alleges any specific representations in advertising or otherwise regarding the panoramic sunroof.
The judge dismissed implied warranty claims because Pickens does not remember at all what Mercedes promised in its advertising beyond a vague assertion of safety and quality.
The judge then moved to fraud-based claims which require the plaintiff to allege Mercedes made a false statement to him or failed to disclose material information. The plaintiff argues he satisfies this pleading requirement with the allegation Mercedes’s advertisements claimed the car was “safe” and “top quality.”
But the judge ruled the alleged statements about safety and quality are too vague to form the basis of any fraud claim. Additionally, claims about “quality” in the context of advertising are generally considered “puffery,” something that is not actionable.
Pickens also admits he cannot remember any specifics about the advertisements and he does not allege any specific statements by the salesperson.
Judge Durkin also found Pickens does not plausibly allege Mercedes knew the sunroof was likely to shatter. As mentioned earlier, the Mercedes-Benz sunroof recall referenced by the plaintiff has nothing to do with sunroofs that shatter, and his model wasn't included in the recall.
The judge also pointed out the recall was announced after the plaintiff purchased his vehicle, so the recall isn't evidence that Mercedes knew about alleged sunroof defects.
"Therefore, Mercedes’s motion to dismiss is granted. Pickens asked for leave to amend his complaint. Pickens has already amended his complaint twice, and his second amended complaint was filed in response to a brief Mercedes filed in opposition to the first amended complaint. Pickens has had sufficient opportunity to state and amend his claims, so his complaint is now dismissed with prejudice." — Judge Durkin
The Mercedes sunroof lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division: Bruce Pickens, v. Daimler AG, et al.
The plaintiff is represented by the Washington Law Offices, P.C., of Chicago.