A class action lawsuit alleges that most Toyota and Lexus vehicles have a defective heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system that “emits noxious and foul odors into the vehicles.”
In addition, car owners “are exposed to a serious safety hazard because mold and other contaminants are emitted in the air circulated through the Defective HVAC System,” according to the complaint.
The Toyota and Lexus HVAC defect class action lawsuit alleges that the scope of the defect includes most models of Toyota vehicles, as well as Toyota’s luxury brand Lexus model cars. The complaint claims that Toyota has been aware of this issue since at least 1999.
According to the class action, Toyota technical service bulletins issued to its exclusive dealerships acknowledge the HVAC issue and admit that “there is no way to eliminate the odors.”
A course manual on air conditioning and climate control published by Toyota and cited in the complaint states that the noxious odors may be caused by mold “growing on the evaporator surface” because “small living bacteria . . . carried into the evaporator case grow in the warm, moist environment.”
The class action asserts that despite knowing about this defect, Toyota illegally continued to sell defective vehicles without disclosing the defect in the HVAC system, or issuing a recall to fix the problems.
The complaint contends that these are violations of state consumer protection laws, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and federal warranty law.
The class action argues that “no reasonable consumer” would expect to purchase a new vehicle with a defective HVAC system that emits foul odors.
Plaintiffs Paul and Elizabeth Stockinger, Gailyn Kennedy, Basudeb Dey, Brenda Flinn, and Eliezer Casper all state that they purchased new Toyota or Lexus vehicles in 2014 and 2015, and have experienced noxious odors coming from the vents in their vehicles.
All claim that they would not have purchased their vehicles, or would have paid much less for them, had Toyota disclosed the HVAC defect before the sale.
The HVAC defect lawsuit requests certification of a Class of all people who purchased or leased a Toyota or Lexus model involved in the lawsuit. The complaint lists a page of models affected by the defect, including most Toyota models built between 2009-2015 and several Lexus model vehicles.
The class action seeks restitution, treble damages, punitive damages, and an injunction stopping Toyota from its deceptive sales practices.
This is not the first class action Toyota is facing about its HVAC system. In November of 2015, a class action was filed against Toyota over the HVAC system in its Camry model cars.
The plaintiffs in this Toyota, Lexus HVAC class action are represented by Paul R. Kiesel, Helen Zukin, Jeffrey A. Koncius and Nicole Ramirez of Kiesel Law LLP; Joseph H. Meltzer, Peter A. Muhic and Melissa L. Troutner of Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check, LLP.
The Toyota and Lexus HVAC Defect Class Action Lawsuit is Paul Stockinger, et al. v. Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc., Case No. 2:17-cv-00035, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.