Hagens Berman has taken an advisory role in the emissions-cheating litigation against Mercedes’ parent company, Daimler, filed in Australia. The firm looks to build upon its existing win against Mercedes for emissions cheating in its vehicles sold in the U.S. and support Australians who were similarly deceived.
WHAT’S THE ISSUE?
Hagens Berman is advising legal efforts in Australia filed against Mercedes accusing the automaker of knowingly programming its Clean Diesel BlueTEC vehicles to emit illegal, dangerous levels of nitrogen oxide (NOx) in virtually all real-world driving conditions and contain a “defeat device” used to cheat testing. This litigation follows claims filed by the firm in both the U.S. – where Hagens Berman helped secure a $700 million settlement for consumers – and in the U.K. where the case is pending in court.
AUSTRALIAN CLAIMS AGAINST MERCEDES
Gerard Malouf & Partners law firm is pursuing claims on behalf of Australian consumers who were deceived into believing their vehicles complied with federal emissions regulations, when in fact they pollute at illegally high levels. The action was filed with the Victorian Supreme Court on Nov. 20, 2022, and according to reports, emissions-cheating devices installed in Mercedes vehicles sold in Australia affect roughly 250,000 vehicles.
CMP chairman Gerard Malouf said the partnership, “is a great step forward towards achieving just compensation for those consumers in Australia which have been affected by Mercedes’ ‘cheat devices.’”
While an official list of affected vehicles has not been released, GMP Law is investigating the following classes of Mercedes models:
- A Class
- B Class
- C Class
- CLA Class
- CLS Class
- E Class
- G Class
- GL Class
- M Class
- S Class
- SLK Class
- X Class
- VAN (Sprinter, Vito, Citan Etc.)
- And others…
ELIGIBLE AUSTRALIAN MERCEDES OWNERS
If you have owned or leased an affected Mercedes vehicle manufactured between Jan. 1, 2008 and Dec. 31, 2018 you may be entitled to significant damages for:
- loss of value of your vehicle
- cost of repair/replacement
- loss of fuel efficiency.
In some circumstances it may be possible to obtain a refund.
THE CASE VS. MERCEDES
In Hagens Berman’s original lawsuit against Mercedes, filed Feb. 18, 2016, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, Mercedes faced claims of deceiving consumers with false representations of its BlueTEC vehicles, which it marketed as “the world’s cleanest and most advanced diesel” with “ultra-low emissions, high fuel economy and responsive performance” that emits “up to 30% lower greenhouse-gas emissions than gasoline.”
Attorneys representing vehicle owners sought relief for those who purchased the affected vehicles, including injunctive relief in the form of a recall or free replacement program and restitution including either recovery of the purchase price or overpayment or diminution in value due to Mercedes’ misleading statements and omissions regarding the emission levels of its Clean Diesel BlueTEC vehicles.
Testing at highway speeds, at low temperatures, and at variable speeds, indicate a systemic failure to meet emissions standards. Low temperature testing at highway speeds for example, produced emissions that were 8.1 to 19.7 times the highway emissions standard. The lawsuit adds that testing at low temperatures at variable speeds produced emissions as high as 30.8 times the standard.
DIESEL EMISSIONS CHEATING EXPLAINED
- First, initial reduction of NOx is performed by the exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system.
- Next, a diesel oxidation catalyst reduces the amounts of carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrocarbons (HC) released from the exhaust and helps keep the particulate trap clean.
- Then, a particulate filter traps and stores soot particles. The diesel oxidation catalyst upstream helps to remove the particles from the particulate trap, though the engine will occasionally remove excessive particulate buildup by raising the exhaust temperature. In some older model vehicles, a NOx storage catalyst will be used to perform the final removal of NOx from the exhaust before it exits the tailpipe.
- The vast majority of BlueTEC-equipped Mercedes in the US make use of a Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) catalytic converter (instead of the NOx storage catalyst) to convert the remaining nitrogen oxides to nitrogen and water; so-called diesel exhaust fluid (or “DEF,” a solution of urea and water) is injected into the exhaust gas stream to enable the conversion. In order to prevent vehicles from breaking emissions regulations, the engine may go into a limp-home-mode if the DEF tank is depleted; drivers are instructed to keep the tank refilled as necessary. Some commercial vehicles are equipped with a request or inhibit switch which allows the DEF injection to be "postponed" as it can reduce power output and increase temperatures temporarily; if the vehicle is climbing a grade, for example, it may be necessary to delay the cycle.