Toyota Class Action Filed Over Air Ventilation System Odor

Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel

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A class-action lawsuit has been filed against car manufacturing giant Toyota and its luxury line of vehicles, Lexus, alleging that the vehicles contain defective HVAC systems. Named plaintiffs Paul and Elizabeth Stockinger, Gailyn Kennedy, Basudeb Dey, Brenda Flinn and Elizer Capser have all stated in their complaint that the air ventilation systems in the vehicles emit a moldy odor that cannot be masked. They further state that no reasonable consumer would purchase or lease a new vehicle expecting the HVAC system to be faulty. 

Plaintiffs allege that defendants Lexus and Toyota have been aware of the issue in the HVAC systems of their vehicles since 1999; however, they have chosen not to address the issue through a recall or a halting of production. Rather, Defendants have simply sent out technical service bulletins to dealerships stating that there is no way to eliminate the odors. Plaintiffs cite to a Toyota Cause Manual, which opines that the foul odor is likely caused by mold “growing on the evaporator surface” because “small living bacteria…carried into the evaporator case grow in the warm, moist environments.” The complaint accuses Toyota and Lexus of violating state consumer protection laws, fraud, negligent misrepresentation and federal warranty laws.

Plaintiffs are seeking class protection for all consumers who have purchases or leased a Lexus or Toyota model built between 2009-2015. Further, Plaintiffs are seeking restitution, treble damages, punitive damages and an injunction stopping Toyota from continuing its deceptive sales practices.               

The case 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.

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