Seventh class action suit filed against Caterpillar over ACERT engines

By Clarissa Hawes, Land Line staff writer | 6/26/2014

A seventh class action complaint has been filed against Caterpillar Inc. over alleged defects with its C13 and C15 engines.

In its lawsuit filed in federal court in Colorado on June 24, K Double D Inc. of Parker, Colo., claims it purchased a tractor with a 2007 Cat engine. The company alleges in its complaint that it has spent thousands of dollars on costly repairs after purchasing the truck equipped with a Caterpillar Regeneration System – or CRS.

All of the class action complaints filed against Caterpillar revolve around trucks from model years 2007 to 2010 equipped with the Advanced Combustion Emissions Reduction Technology (ACERT) diesel engines. The lawsuits all claim that the CRS system, which includes the diesel particulate filter, the aftertreatment regeneration device and the electronic control model are defective, causing the trucks to suddenly shut down to regenerate or repower, stranding truckers under loads on the side of the road.

The trucks then have to be towed to a Caterpillar-authorized repair facility because the computer codes and software are proprietary. Many of the trucking companies involved in the class action complaints allege they purchased the trucks to be compliant with the 2007 Environmental Protection Agency emission standard. The standard was enacted in 2001 to provide engine manufacturers with the lead time needed to effectively phase-in the exhaust emissions control technology.

OOIDA Member John Lamanteer of Chester, S.C., says he knows first-hand the financial devastation that many trucking companies are experiencing after purchasing trucks with the Cat ACERT engines. He told Land Line on June 26 that he paid more than $202,000 for a 2008 Kenworth W900, equipped with a C15 Cat engine, with a 120-inch custom sleeper.

Within three weeks of purchasing his truck, Lamanteer claims he experienced his first problem with his engine’s regeneration system.

“This was supposed to be my retirement truck, but it has turned into a financial nightmare,” he said.

At first, Lamanteer said his repairs were covered under his warranty. He now has more than 640,000 miles on his truck and his warranty has expired. Since then, Lamanteer claims he has spent at least $60,000 out of his own pocket for costly repair bills for his motor and regeneration system.

“I now carry spare parts because I never know when a sensor is going to flash and my truck is going to shut down,” he said. “Just about every month something happens. I can’t afford tow bills or to be stranded on the side of the road.”

In the past, Lamanteer said he only owned Kenworth tractors with Caterpillar engines. That was before purchasing his current one equipped with the ACERT engine.

“I am 10 payments away from paying off this truck, but what am I going to do after that?”

Lamanteer said the value of his truck has drastically diminished because of the industry’s awareness of problems with the ACERT engines.

“I can’t sell it, but I can’t keep going on like this,” he said.

Before purchasing his Kenworth, Lamanteer said he always had a “nice cushion” in his bank account. He told Land Line that cushion no longer exists.

In late March, attorneys for Caterpillar Inc. asked a panel of federal judges to consolidate five class action lawsuits filed against the company over alleged defects with its C13 and C15 engines purchased between 2007 and 2010.

According to court documents, Caterpillar is requesting that the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidate and transfer the cases to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District in Florida.

Caterpillar stopped making the C13 and C15 ACERT engines, but denies knowledge that the C13 and C15 truck and bus engines were defective.

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