A consumer protection group in Germany has brought to a Stuttgart court a class-action style lawsuit against Mercedes-Benz in relation to the Dieselgate scandal. The German carmaker allegedly used devices intended to cheat emissions tests for its SUV models, particularly the GLC and GLK ones. With the device, every time the models were tested, they reflected lower levels of pollutants than what is actually produced when driven on real roads.
The case is intended to determine if the carmaker knew that they were deceiving their customers. If such an act is proven, affected car owners have the right to claim damages and receive compensation.
The consumer protection group filed the case after the approval of a 2018 law that gave consumer protection organisations the ability to bring legal action on behalf of their clients. Around 50,000 Mercedes SUV GLC and GLK vehicles are involved in the lawsuit.
As in previous allegations brought against them, Mercedes-Benz denied the claims and said that the lawsuit was baseless. According to the carmaker’s lawyers, of the thousands of claims that legal firms have brought to court, about 95% were unsuccessful.
The Stuttgart lawsuit is linked to the 2015 Dieselgate diesel emissions scandal that involved another German carmaker, Volkswagen.
How the Dieselgate scandal started
Before Dieselgate, diesel vehicles were the first option for car owners who wanted to drive cars and vans that did not only guarantee high-value performance but an environmentally safe technology as well. Manufacturers produced one diesel vehicle after another as thousands of consumers went out of their way trying to find one that answered their needs.
This would all change in September 2015 after the California Air Resources Board, along with the United States EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), sent the Volkswagen Group a notice that said they violated emissions regulations by using defeat devices in Audi and VW diesel vehicles sold in the US.
The Volkswagen Group’s initial reaction was to deny the accusations, but later on, they eventually admitted that they knew about the emissions manipulation device. Authorities ordered them to pay fines and recall and refit vehicles. Meanwhile, the fiasco caused them to face group litigations and class-action lawsuits. The carmaker has spent billions of Euros over the years.
Using a defeat device violates emissions regulations as it is designed to know when a vehicle is in testing. It manipulates emissions by artificially lowering the levels to within the mandated limits set by the World Health Organization (WHO). To authorities, the vehicle will appear clean and safe for the environment. This would change when the vehicle is taken out for a drive on real roads.
Once on the road, the vehicle immediately shifts back to its default settings and emits voluminous amounts of nitrogen oxide or NOx emissions. NOx is a highly reactive group of gases that contain nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and nitric oxide (NO) and has adverse effects on a person’s health and the environment.
Like the VW Group, Mercedes-Benz also received a notice from US authorities accusing them of using defeat devices in their diesel vehicles. Thousands of affected drivers came together to file a class-action lawsuit for the Mercedes emissions violations. The vehicle manufacturer was also ordered to recall over 700,000 vehicles in Europe after 11 of their sites in Germany were raided by prosecutors.
The first Mercedes emissions claim in the UK was brought to court in 2020.
Over the years, other carmakers have been implicated in the Dieselgate scandal, including popular brands BMW, Renault, and Peugeot.
The adverse effects on NOx emissions
Nitrogen oxide or NOx is a catalyst for pollutants, including smog and acid rain. It mixes with other chemicals to form ground-level ozone, a pollutant that destroys vegetation, specifically plants and crops.
For a person constantly exposed to NOx emissions, there are always consequences regardless of the level of exposure. One of the possible effects is the reduction of one’s cognitive function, which means a person becomes more susceptible to dementia. NOx emissions can also trigger mental health-related issues, such as symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Being exposed to NOx emissions can also affect an individual’s overall health. If the exposure is low-level, the common effects include the presence of fluid in the lungs, asthma, and other breathing problems. In some cases, the exposed individual may also develop respiratory problems such as emphysema and bronchitis. Nausea and vomiting are also common side effects of NOx emissions exposure.
Exposure to high levels of nitrogen oxide emissions can lead to life-threatening conditions, the most common of which are asphyxiation, cancer, and cardiovascular conditions. Other serious health effects are laryngospasms or spasms of the vocal cords and premature death.
Why carmakers should be held responsible
Volkswagen, Mercedes, and all other carmakers that used defeat devices violated emissions regulations and, in the process, endangered the environment and the lives of their customers. They have also potentially lied to drivers by marketing the vehicles as environmentally safe even if these were fitted with defeat devices. Affected car owners are encouraged to bring forward a diesel claim against their carmaker.
If you believe you are affected, your first step should be to verify your eligibility to make a claim. You can work on this with the panel of emissions experts at ClaimExperts.co.uk. Visit their website now so you can start your diesel claim process.