A dozen lawsuits now filed against Caterpillar over ACERT engines

By Clarissa Hawes, Land Line staff writer | 7/15/2014

A dozen lawsuits have now been filed against Caterpillar Inc. over alleged defects with its C13 and C15 engines.

In the latest class action complaint filed in federal court in Michigan, Ricky A. Williams of Detroit claims he purchased a tractor with a 2007 Cat engine. He alleges in the complaint that he suffered engine and regeneration problems “resulting in substantial damages.”

Williams claims in the suit that he and others proposed class members started experiencing problems with their Caterpillar Regeneration System, or CRS, not long after purchasing their tractors.

“This caused (Williams) and class members to incur significant damages in the diminution of the value of their vehicles,” according to the lawsuit filed on July 9.

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

Paul M. Weiss of Complex Litigation Group LLC in Highland Park, Ill., told Land Line on Tuesday, July 15, that the MDL panel recently concluded that the cases would be heard in the U.S. District Court in New Jersey, which his firm supported.

“We think we have a good case. We have heard from hundreds of small trucking companies to larger companies who have all experienced problems that have caused them to lose money,” Weiss said. “All report downtime due to waiting for repairs to their trucks or that they were unable to deliver their loads because of regeneration problems. Many report lost profits because they were unable to take a load because their truck was in the shop.”

Weiss’s firm has heard from hundreds of drivers who purchased a tractor with a C13 or C15 engine, who were left financially devastated after paying for out-of-pocket expenses for towing bills, incurring hotel bills while waiting on repairs, or paying for costly repairs after their warranties ran out.

“We have heard from some mom and pop owners who have had to file for bankruptcy or are on the verge of bankruptcy because of defects with these engines,” he said.

Weiss said clients with the Advanced Combustion Emissions Reduction Technology, or ACERT, diesel engines claim they started experiencing engine breakdowns about every 20,000 miles. He said their buses or trucks would suddenly shut down to regenerate or repower and had to be towed to a Caterpillar-authorized repair facility because the computer codes and software were proprietary.

Caterpillar has stopped making the C13 and C15 ACERT engines, but still repairs them if they are under warranty. However, Caterpillar denies knowledge that the C13 and C15 truck and bus engines were defective.

“The problem is that a lot of people went out and bought a used one of these thinking they got a good deal, not realizing that they bought a lemon – then finding out they have no warranty coverage,” Weiss said recently.

Weiss said plaintiffs in the cases just want what the vehicles would have been worth had there not been a problem with the C13 and C15 issues.

“Honestly, the diminished value is between $50,000 to $80,000, what they lost in value and what it should be worth had they not had this problem,” he said recently.

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