Mercedes-Benz has been slapped with a mass lawsuit at London’s High Court from owners who claim their diesel vehicles were equipped with emissions-cheating devices.
A preliminary hearing held at the High Court earlier this week revealed that almost 300,000 claims have been issued against Mercedes-Benz in London and that a further 35,000 are being prepared. All of the claims will be managed together, Reuters reports.
A lawyer representing the claimants, Oliver Campbell, alleges that a number of Mercedes-Benz vehicles used defeat devices to lower NOx emissions during testing, claiming that the vehicles produced “far higher amounts of NOx than was permitted.” Campbell added that Mercedes-Benz has “no tenable defense” for using the devices.
Speaking to the court, Campbell added that the defeat devices would “turn down or, in some cases, turn off” nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions control systems when driven in normal conditions. He noted that the use of such defeat devices to “reduce the effectiveness of emissions control systems is generally prohibited.”
Lawyers claim this will be the largest consumer group action before the English courts.
Mercedes-Benz has vehemently denied the accusations. In written submissions to the court, Helen Davies, representing Mercedes-Benz, noted that “emissions control is complex” and that there is a “significant variation in the hardware, software and calibration of parameters” of the range of vehicles involved in the claims. Davies added that the carmaker will show there was no “reduction of effectiveness” in its systems.
Judge Barbara Fontaine still needs to rule over certain issues in dispute before she can approve a group litigation order.