Caterpillar, Inc., has agreed to pay $60 million to settle a consolidated class action lawsuit brought by 22 trucking and transportation firms and individuals in 18 states that had purchased or leased vehicles powered by defective heavy-duty, on-highway diesel engines.

Case Background

Cohen Milstein served as co-lead counsel in a class action on behalf of 22 trucking and transportation operations, many family-owned, alleging that defective engines sold by Caterpillar left passengers stranded and unduly delayed the transportation of goods.  On September 20, 2016, Judge Jerome Simandle of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey signed a final order approving a settlement of $60 million.

At issue in the class action lawsuit, originally filed in October 2014, were C-13 and C-15 engines, collectively known as MY2007 CAT engines, whose exhaust emission system defects resulted in power losses and shutdowns that prevented or impeded the plaintiffs’ vehicles from transporting goods or passengers.

The consolidated complaint against Caterpillar detailed a number of known product problems, including that the CAT engines’ system was not designed, built or equipped to conform to exhaust emission regulation standards without causing repeated engine failures or shut down commands that caused the vehicles to lose power and/or shut down.

The engines were designed with CAT’s Advanced Combustion Emissions Reduction Technology (ACERT) systems to meet the tougher emission standards implemented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). ACERT works by using a series of turbochargers to force cool, clean air into a combustion chamber, which would then regenerate, lowering oxides of nitrogen and increasing fuel economy. The lawsuit alleged that while the design was marketed as a reliable, durable and fuel-efficient system, the engines were, in fact, defective and had been marketed and distributed under false pretenses.

The 22 truck engine plaintiffs represent purchasers and lessees of vehicles with the MY2007 CAT engines in California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.