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A lawsuit filed by a class of consumers alleges that Mercedes-Benz USA LLC failed to repair the gasoline tanks and related components in its E-Class models that have caused fuel to leak or vapors to spread inside the cars’ cabins. The suit, filed on July 18 in federal court in Atlanta, cites a 2008 recall of the Mercedes E55 AMG that it alleges failed to repair faulty components. The suit expands the defect allegations to include the E350, E500, E550 and E63 AMG models. “We believe they all have the same fuel tank,” said Neil Goro, an associate at Texas-based Wigington Rumley Dunn & Ritch, which filed the suit along with Atlanta’s Conley Griggs Partin. “We’ve received complaints from owners with various E-Class vehicles — not just the E55 — and they were all complaining of the same, or very similar, issues with fuel leaks.” Geoff Day, a spokesman for Mercedes and its parent corporation, Daimler A.G., both of which were named in the complaint, declined to comment. On Jan. 23, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation into gas leaks in all E55 vehicles for the years 2003-06. The investigation, which is pending, followed the recall of the same models. “Defendants still have not redesigned and manufactured the fuel tanks free of all defects,” the suit alleges. “Owners who have been forced by Defendants to purchase and replace defective gasoline tanks out-of-pocket only received new defective gasoline tanks.” The class includes consumers in Georgia, Texas and Virginia who bought or leased E-Class models from model years 2003 through 2009. According to the complaint, Ronan McCabe of Tucker, Ga., bought a 2006 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG on January 24. One day later, he noticed a gas odor coming from the right side rear of the car. He took it to a dealership the following day, where technicians replaced the fuel-sending unit and charged him about $300. On February 3, McCabe noticed that the odor had returned and that gas was leaking from the car. Three days later, technicians replaced the gas tank, fuel-sending units, fuel pump, rings and seals for more than $1,600. Also according to the complaint, Jon Dustin Stone of Plano, Texas, bought a Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG on July 7, 2011. On January 8, he took his car into a local dealership, where technicians replaced the left-side fuel-sending unit and installed a new seal on the right unit. Stone returned to the dealership 12 days later complaining of a gas odor in the cabin. Technicians found a “material defect” in the new fuel-sending unit, which they replaced. Then, on February 3, Stone returned again after finding a pool of gas under his car in his garage; technicians replaced the entire gas tank. Minh Vo, of Sterling, Va., purchased a used 2006 Mercedes-Benz E500 on December 15, 2008, and a used 2005 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG on December 23, 2010, according to the complaint. He took his E55 into a dealership on March 14, 2011, after complaining of gas odor. Technicians replaced one fuel sending unit and two seal rings for $945. Vo has noticed the same odor in his E500. “They’ve all actually had leakage and they’ve had their fuel tanks replaced, and they were replaced with new defective fuel tanks that will again leak,” Goro said of the named plaintiffs. Goro, who works in the firm’s San Antonio office, could not say how many consumers could be part of each class in those states, but noted that nationwide more than 300,000 of the cars at issue have been sold. “This is a huge safety concern,” he said. Beside the risk of fire or explosion, exposure to gasoline vapors could cause sickness or other health problems, the suit says. The suit, which seeks compensatory and punitive damages, asserts violations of the U.S. Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, the Texas Deceptive Practices Act and the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. Additionally, it alleges unjust enrichment, fraudulent concealment, breach of express warranty and implied warranty of merchantability, and breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. Contact Amanda Bronstad at abronstad@alm.com.

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