Australians File Class-Action Lawsuit against Mercedes for Dieselgate Emissions

Last November 22, a class-action lawsuit was filed against German carmaker Mercedes-Benz in connection with allegations that they used cheat devices to artificially alter diesel emissions. The case was brought to a Victorian supreme court and now involves hundreds of thousands of diesel vehicles that were sold in the Australian market for over 10 years.

Owners of used or new Mercedes diesel vehicles made between January 2008 and December 2018 are eligible to receive significant compensation. The payout for punitive damages and affected vehicles’ loss of value may include a portion of the buying price.

Lawyers from the Australian compensation law firm are working with a US-based firm that has successfully brought diesel emissions class action cases throughout North America. This includes the Mercedes-Benz settlement with US authorities in September 2020 that cost the carmaker AUS$1.32 billion (or about £729,305,339). 

The American law firm is also responsible for the Volkswagen settlement agreement about the 2015 Dieselgate scandal.

A representative from the said US law firm revealed that sharing information with their Australian counterpart is a positive development in helping affected car owners in Australia get the compensation they deserve. The numerous government investigations and international court cases against the German carmaker are proof that the case against Mercedes is strong. 

The two firms are committed to protecting the environment and the monetary interests and health of the affected consumers.

Mercedes-Benz vehicles that have been allegedly fitted with defeat devices for cheating emissions testing include:

  • Sprinter vans, 2009 to 2018 models
  • 1.8-litre and 2.1-litre models (A, B, C, E, CLA, Vito, and GLA)
  • OM 651 (2008-2016)
  • OM 642, 2009 to 2016 (3-litre V6 – Chrysler, Jeep, and Mercedes)
  • OM 626, 2009 to 2016
  • OM 622, 1-litre C Class (2009-2016)
  • OM 607, 1.5-litre A-Class, B-Class, Citan van (2009 to 2016)

Mercedes-Benz Australia said they know about the potential class-action lawsuit from media reports but have yet to receive a formal notice or court documents about the issue. They further stated that the allegations have no merit, and they are prepared to defend the said legal proceedings. 

Similar cases have been brought forward against Hino Motors Limited and Hino Motor Sales Australia.

What happened in September 2015?

Mercedes-Benz’s use of the defeat devices caused irreversible damage to the environment when they misrepresented nitrogen oxide or NOx emissions from their diesel-powered vehicles. This is the same case that put the Volkswagen Group under the scrutiny of US authorities.

In September 2015, the VW Group received a Notice of Violation from the California Air Resources Board and the US Environmental Protection Agency or EPA. Authorities allegedly found illegal defeat devices installed in Audi and Volkswagen diesel vehicles across the United States. VW used the devices to cheat regulatory testing procedures so their vehicles would pass emissions regulations.

A defeat device can sense when a vehicle was being tested. When it does, it enters a mode which helps the engine reduce emissions levels to within World Health Organization (WHO) limits. However, when driving on real roads, the device makes the vehicle revert to its default settings, making it emit NOx emissions that far exceed EU and WHO limits. 

Volkswagen misled their customers into purchasing diesel vehicles that hid real emissions. They initially denied the allegations but eventually admitted that they knowingly fitted the defeat devices into Audi and VW diesel vehicles.

Other carmakers were soon implicated in the diesel emissions scandal, including Renault, BMW, Vauxhall, and Mercedes-Benz.

Why defeat devices are dangerous

NOx, the pollutant that diesel vehicles emit, has various environmental and health impacts – and this is why defeat devices are illegal and dangerous.

Nitrogen oxide is highly reactive and poisonous. It contains nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which are known to cause adverse effects on human health.

When NOx reacts with other elements, it produces ground-level ozone, a pollutant responsible for vegetation damage. Nitrogen oxide also reacts with VOC or volatile organic compounds, which results in the formation of smog. NOx is also responsible for producing acid rain.

A person exposed to nitrogen oxide emissions can develop Alzheimer’s disease as cognitive function decreases. NOx also triggers anxiety, depression, and other mental health-related issues. 

NOx emissions can irritate the upper respiratory tract regardless of the amount of concentration and frequency of exposure. They also irritate the mucous membranes, skin, and eyes. The pulmonary system is affected as well, and this can cause emphysema, bronchitis, pneumonitis, and pulmonary edema. In some cases, there can be coughing, dyspnoea or shortness of breath, and hyperpnoea or forced respiration.

Other health impacts include asphyxiation, laryngospasm or vocal cords spasm, cardiovascular disease, and premature death.

Children, pregnant women, people with heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and asthmatics are most sensitive to NOx emissions.

How to make a claim

If you or someone you know is affected by the diesel emissions scandal, you are entitled to make a claim against your carmaker. It is your right to receive compensation for the environmental harm and health risks the defeat devices have caused. 

You may be wondering, “How do I start my diesel claim? Is there a particular process to follow?” Emissions experts can help you make the claims process easier. However, you’ll have to verify your eligibility to make a diesel claim first.

Visit the website to get important information that can help you move forward with your claim.