Judicial panel approves consolidation of Navistar MaxxForce lawsuits

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | 12/18/2014

A federal judicial panel has agreed to consolidate 13 of 14 civil lawsuits brought against truck maker Navistar International. The move clears the way for a trial over engines the company once believed gave it a competitive advantage in the new truck market.

Navistar has faced a flurry of lawsuits over MaxxForce engines and whether the manufacturing giant knew it was selling defective products. Specifically, the suits say Navistar’s use of advanced exhaust gas recirculation emission control system, or EGR, was defective and resulted in repeated engine failures and frequent repairs and downtime.

This week, the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ordered that 13 of 14 civil lawsuits brought against Navistar for MaxxForce engines be consolidated into one case.

The consolidated lawsuits all claim the MaxxForce engines with EGR were defective, and suffered “repeated failures and fault warnings, resulting in costly and time-consuming repairs,” according to court documents. Together, they will be adjudicated in federal court in the Northern District of Illinois, near both the Lisle, Ill., headquarters of Navistar and many plaintiffs.

“This district, which is supported by both defendants and a majority of the plaintiffs, is a convenient accessible forum with the resources to devote to this litigation,” the order reads. “Centralization will eliminate duplicative discovery, prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel, and the judiciary.”

The lone suit not to be included in the consolidation is Ross Neely versus Navistar Corp., which the panel noted is far enough into proceedings that being included in the other 13 suits would slow its process. The Ross Neely suit will continue in federal court in the Northern District of Texas.

Plaintiffs in three of the lawsuits had preferred the trial be located in New Jersey.

Navistar declined to comment on the judicial order.

“As a matter of policy we don’t comment on pending litigation,” Steve Schrier, Navistar spokesman, told Land Line Thursday.

Nine of the lawsuits were filed on behalf of nationwide classes of truck owners and lessees of trucks with MaxxForce engines.

A 15th suit against Navistar and MaxxForce was filed in Louisiana but dismissed based on plaintiff’s motion, the order noted. Five additional suits have been filed in California, Kentucky and Illinois, and may be added to the consolidated case later, the order reads.

Trucks with affected engines include the following Class 7 and Class 8 models: International Prostar; Lonestar; International Transstar; International Workstar; Paystar; and International Loadstar.

MaxxForce engines with EGR stood out from competitors that used Selective Catalytic Reduction, or SCR systems, to meet 2010 emissions standards.

In 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.

Navistar International shares fell this week after the company reported a $72 million loss for the fiscal fourth quarter. The company reported $3 billion in revenue for the quarter.

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