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Cases & Deals

August 20, 2015

K&S Wins Summary Judgment for Automotive Manufacturers in Multistate Class Action


King & Spalding won complete summary for its clients Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC in a 12-count, multistate class action in which Plaintiffs alleged that the fuel systems in their E-Class vehicles were defective.     

Plaintiffs brought suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia claiming that the fuel systems in the 2003-2009 W211 Mercedes-Benz E-Class line (encompassing roughly 200,000 vehicles) all suffered from identical gasoline leak defects that exposed putative class members to significant economic damages and rendered their cars unsafe to drive.  During the course of the litigation, Plaintiffs were represented by nine different class representatives bringing claims on behalf of citizens in six states: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Texas, and Virginia.  They pursued various theories of recovery, including breach of warranty, unjust enrichment, common law fraud, and violation of state consumer protection statutes. 

K&S secured an important early victory at the motion to dismiss stage when the federal judge dismissed the Illinois and Florida plaintiffs entirely, along with all other claims except those predicated on fraud allegations.  See McCabe v. Daimler AG, 948 F. Supp. 2d 1347 (N.D. Ga. 2013).  Once the case moved to the discovery stage, King & Spalding was able to elicit material admissions from the named plaintiffs during depositions that severely weakened their remaining fraud claims. 

K&S then successfully obtained summary judgment on the plaintiff’s alleged fraud claims, with the federal court holding that, as to the state laws at issue, “Plaintiffs have presented no law to support the proposition that a defendant has a duty to disclose allegedly omitted information where the remote seller has no contractual relationship with the plaintiff and did not make any affirmative misrepresentation.”  The case serves as important precedent in states where the scope of duties owed by a product manufacturer to remote purchasers remains unsettled law.