Defect alleged to affect tens if not hundreds of thousands of 2010-2022 cars across the Mercedes-Benz vehicle line can cause rear subframes to rust or corrode, resulting in sudden, unexpected loss of control for the driver. In response to notice of imminent lawsuit, Mercedes announced a belated and inadequate warranty extension.
ATLANTA–(BUSINESS WIRE)–U.S. District Court Judge Sarah E. Geraghty has issued an order in the Mercedes-Benz vehicle subframe defect lawsuit naming Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP senior partner Jonathan D. Selbin and DiCello Levitt LLC founding partner Adam J. Levitt as Interim Co-Lead Class Counsel for Plaintiffs. The lawsuit accuses the automaker of breach of warranty and violation of state and federal consumer fraud laws, relating to rust or corrosion of the subframe in 2010-2022 models across the Mercedes-Benz vehicle line, including Classes C, E, GLK, G, CLS SLK/SLC, and SL.
Per the Court’s order, Selbin and Levitt have the responsibility of coordinating the work of preparing and presenting all of Plaintiffs’ claims and otherwise coordinating all proceedings, including organizing and supervising the efforts of Plaintiffs’ counsel; delegating work responsibilities and monitoring the activities of all Plaintiffs’ counsel in order to promote the orderly and efficient conduct of the litigation; calling meetings of Plaintiffs’ counsel, presenting to the Court and opposing parties the position of the Plaintiffs on all matters arising during pretrial (and, if appropriate, trial) proceedings; serving as primary contact for all inter-party communications; directing and executing the filing of pleadings with the Court; appearing at all hearings and conferences; initiating and conducting negotiations with counsel for Mercedes on all matters, including settlement; and initiating, coordinating, and conducting all discovery on Plaintiffs’ behalf.
The Order also appointed Corpus Law Patel LLC partner Ketan A. Patel as Interim Liaison Counsel for all Plaintiffs, responsible for facilitating and expediting communications with and among Plaintiffs’ counsel and such other duties as requested by the Court or Interim Co-Lead Counsel.
As the Class Action Complaint notes, Plaintiffs brought the lawsuit to force Mercedes to warn consumers about a dangerous defect in the rear subframes of their vehicles and compensate them for their damages arising from the defect. Plaintiffs allege that the vehicle subframes prematurely rust and corrode, costing consumers thousands of dollars in repairs that Mercedes has refused to cover. The rust and corrosion can adversely affect driveability, lead to corrosion of other components on the underside of the vehicles, or cause the rear subframes to fail while the vehicles are in motion. As a result, thousands of owners have paid out of pocket for repairs and related costs, while many more are still unknowingly driving unsafe vehicles.
The complaint further alleges that Mercedes has known of the defect for many years, including through consumer complaints made directly to Mercedes, complaints made to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s Office of Defect Investigation, and complaints posted on public online vehicle owner forums, as well as other internal sources unavailable to Plaintiffs and their counsel without discovery. In addition, the complaint details that, despite Mercedes’ refusal to acknowledge the defect or pay in full for the repairs it requires, Mercedes’ authorized dealers have told owners who complain that premature subframe corrosion is a common problem with Mercedes vehicles.
The complaint explains that, because corrosion occurs “from the inside out,” the defect is not apparent even to a trained mechanic until the rear subframe is dangerously corroded, near total failure, and has rendered the vehicle unsafe to operate. Replacing the rear subframe typically costs from $3,500 to more than $7,000.
Jonathan Selbin notes, “While we are glad Mercedes finally acknowledged this common defect in its vehicles, we are disappointed that it waited years to do so and only took action after we informed them of our impending lawsuit. The relief it is saying it will provide is not adequate because it does not warn owners that they are at risk of significant and dangerous corrosion and need to get their vehicles professionally inspected. It also does not appear to reimburse owners for all of the expenses they incurred due to the defect.” Selbin further stated, “We are honored to be appointed to serve the plaintiffs in the litigation, and are eager to move the case forward on behalf of the Mercedes-Benz vehicle owners and lessees whose vehicles have this costly and potentially quite dangerous defect in their most basic structural foundations.”
“This case exposes a serious safety concern in the affected Mercedes vehicles,” adds Adam Levitt. “Rear subframe corrosion renders the subframe and its attached suspension components structurally unstable and prone to failure. If that occurs while a vehicle is in motion, it can cause fishtailing, erratic veering, and even complete loss of control for the driver. It is of paramount importance that all affected vehicle owners get the opportunity and the notice to have their vehicles inspected promptly and free of charge, as well as repaired or restored as necessary.”
The lawsuit seeks an order that Mercedes-Benz fully acknowledge the rear subframe defect in its vehicles, warn all owners affected by the defect, void any would-be limitations expressed in its vehicle warranties that would let it avoid responsibility for the defect, as well as injunctive relief requiring Mercedes to reassess all prior warranty claims related to the rear subframe defect, to refrain from further deceptive sales practices with respect to the affected vehicles, and to pay for inspection and all repair and related costs owners have incurred as a result of the defect.
Learn more about DiCello Levitt’s automotive defect class action practice: https://bit.ly/3Mfhc3a
Adam J. Levitt
DiCello Levitt LLC
Jonathan D. Selbin
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP