— A Toyota Camry HVAC smell class action lawsuit has been certified for a class of Camry car owners, but only for owners who purchased their cars in Florida.
The Toyota class action lawsuit began with millions of 2012–2017 Camry and Toyota Camry Hybrids that allegedly have defects in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.
Camry customers Javier Cardenas, Rodney Baker and Michelle Monge claim Toyota conspired with Southeast Toyota Distributors to conceal defects that cause the cars to smell like mold.
The HVAC class action alleges the automaker concealed the Camry defects so consumers would be overcharged and so Toyota would avoid buybacks under Lemon Laws.
According to the plaintiffs, the Camry HVAC systems are designed such that "nutrient particles, organic matter, and dusts become trapped in the nooks and crevices in the evaporator housing."
"As a result, Plaintiffs says that this design traps instead of flushing out contaminants with flowing condensation, creating a habitat for organic matter that causes microbial growth and malodor that is then expelled into the cabin." — Toyota Camry HVAC smell lawsuit
Toyota Camry HVAC Class Action Lawsuit Plaintiffs
Plaintiff Rodney Baker purchased a 2012 Toyota Camry from a Toyota dealership in central Florida and says he noticed a moldy smell coming from the vents. He says he complained to a Toyota dealership but no repair was completed.
Two years later he traded in the 2012 Camry for a 2014 Toyota Camry in Florida and allegedly noticed the same odor. The plaintiff says he complained about the smell but no repairs were performed.
Plaintiff Michelle Monge purchased her 2013 Camry from a non-Toyota Florida dealer in 2016, but allegedly noticed the vehicle emits a moldy smell. However, the plaintiff says she never had the Camry inspected by a dealership.
Plaintiff Javier Cardenas purchased his 2014 Toyota Camry from a dealer in Florida and allegedly noticed a bad smell coming from the HVAC system after he started the car. The plaintiff claims the bad smell gets worse as he sets the air conditioner temperature to blow cooler air.
Toyota Camry HVAC Lawsuit Certified For Certain Owners
Judge Federico A. Moreno has now certified a Camry class action, but only for consumers who purchased 2012-2014 non-hybrid Camrys from Florida Toyota dealerships, and only for violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.
However, the judge denied to certify a class for violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act that would have covered several states.
In his order, Judge Moreno says the Toyota Camry HVAC class action lawsuit is not so much about a bad smell, but it's more about Toyota's alleged efforts to conceal defects to overcharge people for the cars.
According to the judge, Toyota internally said the HVAC smell was a "chronic issue" in 2012 and ranked it third on Toyota's list of global issues. The HVAC odors forced Toyota to issue technical service bulletins and "tech tips," but the documents describe the Camry HVAC odors as a normal characteristic of the systems.
Toyota said the Camry air conditioning smells were naturally occurring and nothing could be done to fix them.
Toyota and Southeast Toyota Distributors allegedly concealed the defects to avoid Florida's Lemon Law that required a buyback after three failed attempts to repair the odor problems.
However, the judge says the Camry HVAC lawsuit claims are brought under consumer protection and fraud statutes, which means the alleged harm is the overpayment for the cars as a result of the concealment of the alleged defect, not the defect itself.
The judge ruled the plaintiffs have not offered evidence of a misrepresentation or omission that caused injury to the plaintiffs.
The Toyota Camry HVAC class action lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida: Cardenas, et al., v. Toyota Motor Corporation, et al.
The plaintiffs are represented by Podhurst Orseck P.A., Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check LLP, and Kiesel Law LLP.