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Daimler faces US lawsuit over diesel emissions

A US law firm is suing the German premium carmaker for alleged violations of US emissions laws, claiming Daimler's BlueTech vehicles emit nitrogen oxide at levels 65 times higher than those permitted.

US law firm Hagens Berman said Thursday it had filed a class action lawsuit against Daimler in the District Court of New Jersey, stating the German premium carmaker knowingly programmed its Clean Diesel vehicles to deceive consumers about emissions levels.

The law firm filed the lawsuit in the name of an owner of a Mercedes BlueTech diesel car, which was allegedly found to emit dangerous levels of nitrogen oxide (NOx) 65 times higher than permitted when operating in temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (below 10 degrees Celsius).

According to Hagens Berman, the complaint also stated that on-road testing confirmed that Mercedes' so-called Clean Diesel cars produced average on-road NOx emissions that were 19 times higher than the US standard.

"Mercedes labeled its BlueTEC vehicles as 'earth friendly,' selling consumers the false notion that these diesel cars were less harmful to the environment. Its 'champion of the environment' mantra was a sham," Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman, said in a statement. "It appears that Mercedes has been caught in a similar scheme as Volkswagen, reaping profits from those who have fallen victim to its aggressive and deceptive eco-conscious branding."

A spokesperson for Daimler told the news agency Reuters on Friday that the company considered the lawsuit to be "unfounded," and that the auto maker would scrutinize the test results to prepare a case in its defense.

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BlueTech blues

Daimler has marketed its BlueTech diesel technology as "the world's cleanest and most advanced diesel" with ultra-low emissions, high fuel economy and responsive performance that emits up to 30 percent lower greenhouse-gas emissions than gasoline."

Hagens Berman now seek damages for those who purchased the affected vehicles, including injunctive relief in the form of a recall or free replacement program. They also want restitution for car owners, including either recovery of the purchase price or overpayment or diminution in value due to Mercedes' allegedly misleading statements on emissions.

Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is a consumer-rights class-action law firm with offices in 10 cities. It has already brought high-profile cases against General Motors, Toyota and Kia, and was the first firm in the US to file a lawsuit against Volkswagen (VW) and Audi for their use of emissions-cheating software. The firm is now in a leadership position in the VW multi-district litigation.

"When we filed the first lawsuit against Volkswagen regarding their use of emissions-cheating software, we felt they were not the only culprits duping consumers into paying a high price for deceptive diesels," Berman said. “Mercedes' deception involves a cover-up of even higher levels of pollution, and consumers paid high prices for these luxury vehicles, only to be forced to drive diesel cars dirtier than their gasoline counterparts."

uhe/kd (dpa, Reuters)

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