A September 30, 2021, order from a Florida federal district court allows most of a lawsuit alleging HVAC defects in certain Toyotas to proceed. The order adopts the recommendations made earlier in September 2021 by a federal magistrate judge.
The defendants are Toyota Motor Corporation, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc., and Southeast Toyota Distributors, LLC (collectively, “Toyota”).
Toyota sought to defeat claims alleging it concealed a problem in the heating, ventilation, and air condition (HVAC) systems in non-hybrid, 2012-2014 Camrys. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are current and former owners of such vehicles. They claim the HVAC systems allow accumulation of moisture and microbial growth. This, in turn, may cause emission of foul odors in the passenger compartment.
In support of their claim, the plaintiffs offered in part the opinion of an engineering and automotive design expert, who cited eight defective features of the HVAC system. The expert asserted the defect “allows condensing water to accumulate and allows naturally present organic contaminants to be trapped, kept moist and cultivate organic matter such as microbes, bacteria, mold and fungus.”
The lawsuit raised claims including violation of the federal Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Practices Act. The plaintiffs alleged, for instance, that the defendants disseminated a misleading Technical Service Bulletin to inform complaining consumers that the odor naturally occurred and could not be repaired.
Toyota refuted the claims. The court agreed to rule for Toyota against a claim filed by one plaintiff who did not purchase her vehicle at an authorized dealership. However, the Court ruled against Toyota on its remaining challenges in its motion for summary judgment.
The case is Cardenas, et al. v. Toyota Motor Corp., et al., No. 1:18-cv-22798-FAM, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
You can read the court's order below: