Mercedes-Benz USA LLC will install new seat heater wiring in as many as 270,000 vehicles to settle claims the equipment could spark or catch fire as part of a proposed class action settlement. The settlement is said to be valued about $54 million. That would be in addition to warranty and reimbursement relief. Elizabeth Callaway and her husband, William, filed the suit in December 2014, claiming seat warmers in a variety of Mercedes models were made with copper wires that could fail, spark, or catch fire. They accused the automaker of concealing the alleged defect and intentionally failing to disclose it to buyers.
A main part of the settlement will provide a free “bypass wire repair” for current owners of the affected vehicles, which involves installing a bypass wire in the seat cover intended to eliminate the risk of a malfunction. This was an important part of the settlement. Additionally, class members who don’t get the bypass repair procedures will have extended warranty coverage if something happens to their vehicle seat, within certain mileage-based conditions, according to the terms of the settlement. Anyone who has already experienced an issue with their seat heaters can receive a reimbursement for costs of up to $1,000.
The proposed class includes all current and former owners and lessees of certain Mercedes Benz vehicles with original equipment seat heaters, including 2000-2007 M-Class vehicles, 2006-2007 R-Class vehicles and 2007 GL-Class vehicles.
The Plaintiffs are represented by Jason M. Frank and Scott H. Sims of Frank Sims & Stolper LLP and Eric F. Yuhl and Colin A. Yuhl of Yuhl Carr LLP. The case is Elizabeth Callaway et al. v. Mercedes-Benz USA LLC et al., (case number 8:14-cv-02011) in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
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