— A Mercedes-Benz burl walnut wood trim lawsuit alleges hundreds of thousands 2009-2016 Mercedes E-Series vehicles are equipped with wood trim that discolors and fades.
Plaintiff Teri Callen purchased a 2014 Mercedes-Benz E350 equipped with burl walnut wood trim when the vehicle had about 11,100 miles on it. The vehicle came with a Mercedes certified pre-owned warranty and the remaining standard Mercedes warranty.
Callen first noticed alleged fading with the burl walnut wood trim in November of 2018 when a mechanic pointed it out. The plaintiff claims the trim on each door, center console and the dashboard no longer match each other, are faded, discolored and had a cloudy appearance.
The plaintiff says she contacted the Mercedes dealer and was allegedly told the pre-owned warranty didn't cover the trim. However, Callen says she learned about a technical service bulletin (TSB) and dealer technicians allegedly told her the burl walnut wood trim was defective in various Mercedes models.
The plaintiff claims Mercedes knew about problems with the walnut wood trim in 2009 but chose to ignore the defects and allegedly told dealerships to hide the problems. This argument is supported by technical service bulletin LI68.10-P-050 the automaker issued to dealers in 2010 related to discolored and fading wood trim.
The bulletin warned Mercedes technicians that, “[f]ading or discoloration of the burl walnut trim may develop. The most common affected areas are either behind the SRS label (Fig. 1 – passenger side instrument panel) or on the front doors when removing the interior shipping protections material. Other areas may also be affected.”
According to the TSB, the wood trim fades due to “Inadequate UV (ultra violet) ray protection," something that should be fixed by replacing all the wood trim panels.
The plaintiff also alleges Mercedes told dealers that Mercedes vehicles with burl walnut wood trim in vehicles on dealer lots should be inspected for fading or discoloration.
However, instead of replacing the trim, technicians were allegedly told to relocate the SRS (airbag) label to an area on the instrument panel or lower control panel. In addition, any interior transportation protection material should be removed from the wood surfaces.
The lawsuit alleges Mercedes told dealers to simply move the stickers so that any future discoloration wouldn't be seen. According to the lawsuit:
"Apparently, Mercedes believed that if a sticker was not covering part of an area of the trim that was otherwise fading, the fading, though still present, would not be noticeable until long after the customer drove off the lot in their new car."
Three years after the automaker issued the first dealer bulletin, another TSB (LI68.30-P-053962) was sent in August 2015, this one titled, “Fading of Wood Trim in Model Series 212 Technical Service Bulletin.”
The second bulletin told dealerships that UV radiation could fade the "burled walnut veneer wood finish trim parts." Again, technicians were told to replace the affected trim with a new burl walnut trim kit.
Lawyers for the plaintiff claim Mercedes issued at least nine versions of the second TSB that eventually included all 2010-2016 E-Series vehicles. The automaker allegedly sold about 500,000 E-Series vehicles between 2010 and 2016 and a large majority of those came equipped with burl walnut wood trim.
Then there is the cost if an owner must pay for replacement of the trim. The plaintiff alleges dealers charge between $3,000 to $5,000 to replace the burl walnut trim.
Plaintiff Callen says Mercedes refused to replace the walnut trim even though the automaker issued technical service bulletins about identical fading and discoloration problems.
The Mercedes burl walnut wood trim lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division - Teri Callen, et al., v. Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC.
The plaintiff is represented by Heninger Garrison Davis, LLC.