Twenty-two trucking and transportation firms and individuals in 18 states that had purchased or leased vehicles powered by Caterpillar Inc., heavy-duty, on-highway diesel engines have filed a consolidated class action lawsuit in federal court against the company. They charge that engine exhaust emission system defects resulted in power losses and shutdowns that prevented or impeded their vehicles from transporting goods or passengers.
The involved C-13 and C-15 engines, collectively known as MY2007 CAT engines, were sold from 2007 through 2010.
According to co-lead plaintiffs’ counsel Theodore Leopold, of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, the plaintiffs, who brought the lawsuit on behalf of all such impacted purchasers or lessees, incurred significant damages from the defective engine exhaust emission system in terms of operational losses, diminished vehicle value, and the cost of replacing the CAT engines with other EPA 2007 Emission Standards-compliant heavy-duty, on-highway diesel engines.
“Many of these trucking and transportation operations are small businesses and family-owned shops that can’t afford to have trucks break down due to defects,” said Leopold. “Having their trucks out of commission created a financial hardship for these operators that Caterpillar has a responsibility to resolve, including the significant loss in value of the trucks due to the defects.”
The consolidated complaint, filed under seal on Oct. 6, 2014, in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, against Peoria, Ill.-based Caterpillar, detailed a number of known product problems, including that the CAT engines’ system was not designed, built and equipped to conform with exhaust emission regulation standards without causing repeated engine failures or shut down commands that caused the vehicles to lose power and/or shut down.
These engines were designed with CAT’s ACERT (Advanced Combustion Emissions Reduction Technology) systems to meet tougher emission systems implemented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). ACERT works by using a series of turbochargers to force cool, clean air into a combustion chamber, which would then regenerate, lowering oxides of nitrogen and increasing fuel economy. The lawsuit alleges that while the design was marketed as a reliable, durable and fuel-efficient system, the engines are, in fact, defective and have been marketed and distributed under false pretenses.
“Each time their vehicle had problems, these plaintiffs repeatedly were told that an emissions warranty repair would correct the defect, when CAT knew, or should have known, that the exhaust emission system defect could not be corrected,” said Leopold.
The same issues are also being litigated on behalf of defective C-13 Caterpillar bus engines that involve the same defective ACERT systems. The bus litigation is pending in the same New Jersey Federal Court.
The 22 truck engine plaintiffs represent purchasers and lessees of vehicles with the MY2007 CAT engines in California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.
In addition to Cohen Milstein, co-lead plaintiffs’ counsel are Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah, LLP, and Quantum Legal LLC.
Source: Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC