The luxury car company, Mercedes-Benz, has failed to take the health of their drivers into account when evaluating the severity of a mildew issue in their heating and air-conditioning components. It is argued that Mercedes-Benz and its parent company, Daimler AG, have been aware of the issue since 2008, but the entities did not uphold their duty to fix the issue. In response, consumers filed a class-action lawsuit last year, which just recently reached a settlement.
The lawsuit targeted Mercedes-Benz and Daimler AG, holding the companies responsible for HVAC unit issues in various vehicle models, produced from 2001 to 2018. Some of the models affected include the Mercedes E-Class and the Maybach. According to consumer reviews, within the first 30 seconds of starting the ignition, a strong mildew smell would waft into the vehicle. For many drivers, the odor caused respiratory irritation and heightened allergies. About 2.5 million vehicles were affected. The lawsuit also cited consumer fraud, as Mercedes-Benz and Daimler AG allegedly knew about the mold issue following a 2008 arbitration hearing. Mercedes-Benz lost in arbitration but continued to receive complaints of the smell from their consumers.
Initially, in response to the class action, Daimler AG attempted to have its involvement dropped. A judge denied the motion for dismissal in early 2019. Since the news of the settlement has surfaced, Daimler’s stock has dropped in excess of 4%. To compensate the luxury car owners who were forced to live with a mold infested HVAC system, Mercedes-Benz agreed to pay customers for repair costs already paid, as well as repair costs for those who have yet to fix their vehicles. When purchasing a vehicle, consumers may feel safe to assume that mold is not hiding in the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning units. After this lawsuit, however, many consumers will hopefully ask more questions about any potentially hidden features in the car they are looking to purchase.