Trucking companies in three states sue Navistar over MaxxForce

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | 7/9/2014

Three trucking companies have sued Navistar over the truck manufacturer’s ill-fated bet to rely exclusively on exhaust gas recirculation engines – a gamble that has damaged the company and cost its former CEO his job.

According to court documents, Texas-based Americorp Xpress Carriers LLC; Tennessee-based First Express Inc.; and Washington-based Floyd Blinsky Trucking Inc. have filed civil lawsuits in their home states. The suits allege Navistar failed to disclose known defects and problems with its 2010 EPA emissions-compliant MaxxForce engines and misled the companies about its EGR emissions systems, according to Dallas, Texas-based law firm Miller Weisbrod, which is representing the motor carriers.

In July 2012, Navistar announced it was ceasing production of 15-liter MaxxForce diesel engines for Class 8 trucks and halting the production of all EGR-only technology in other Class 8 engines. The Environmental Protection Agency had previously notified Navistar it could be fined up to $285 million for selling back-dated engines during the 2010 engine transition and Navistar’s inability to meet federal NOx emissions standards.

The company soon partnered with Cummins to introduce engines with SCR emissions systems and fired former CEO Daniel Ustian.

“We believe the evidence is going to show that Navistar chose a path different than all other engine manufacturers when it decided to forgo the SCR technology and rely upon engine heat to lower the NOx emissions to EPA permissible levels,” said Clay Miller, a partner in the firm, according to a news release.

“It should have been obvious that raising engine heat to such high levels would lead to breakdowns and component part failure. We believe that engineers inside the company were warning management of the risks of raising the engine heat and that the EGR-only strategy would not meet the EPA requirements for NOx emissions,” Miller said.

In March and April 2012, court documents say, Americorp Xpress Carriers bought 15 International ProStar trucks from Navistar through the Santex Truck Centers dealership. The company was assured the trucks were in working order.

“However, not long after the purchase of the trucks, Plaintiff began to experience numerous breakdowns of its trucks, specifically the EGR system, EGR coolers, EGR valves, and other components of the trucks and engines,” the lawsuit states. Despite 100 trips to the dealership for system repairs during the two years Americorp Xpress Carriers owned the trucks, the issues weren’t resolved, the suit says. The company also purchased Navistar’s OnCommand service system though it experienced little benefit and no discernible decrease in truck downtime during repairs.

“One of the most significant problems with Defendant’s EGR system is that the continuous recirculation of exhaust gas back into the engine reduces the engine’s efficiency, causes it to overheat and produces excessive soot inside the engine,” the lawsuit states, adding that Navistar knew about performance problems and the EGR systems’ inability to meet 2010 emissions standards all along.

The law firm representing the trucking companies said MaxxForce’s problems are so pervasive attorneys “anticipate filing dozens of more cases in states across the country,” Miller said in the release.

Miller Weisbrod previously represented trucking companies in litigation against Caterpillar Inc. concerning problems with Class 8 engines and emissions control systems designed to meet 2007 EPA requirements.

The Caterpillar cases were settled out of court for undisclosed sums.

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