More fleets pile on in Navistar litigation

Six more trucking operations have sued Navistar in a federal court in Illinois over alleged defects in MaxxForce heavy-duty diesel engines. Meanwhile, a federal judge in Texas ruled Aug. 18 that a lawsuit against Navistar filed there in April 2013 will continue, at least for now.

On July 30, six affiliated trucking operations based in North Lima, OH – B&T Express, OMCO Enterprises, ALJEN Enterprises, A.T.T. Trucking, H.J. O’Malley Trucking and Traficanti Trucking – filed a class action lawsuit against Navistar in the U.S. District Court for the Northern Illinois district. All six had purchased or leased 2008-2013 model year Navistar vehicles equipped with MaxxForce Advanced EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) diesel engines and charge that the company had actively concealed defects and failed to repair them properly during the warranty period.

The fleets’ allegations were similar to those lodged in two other lawsuits filed recently in the same court. On July 7, Rochester, WA-based Par 4 Transport sued Navistar. Two days later, three other operations – Puyallup, WA-based Denis Gray Trucking, which had bought its trucks in California; Chicago-based Carmichael Leasing Co.; and Othello, WA-based GTL Enterprises – filed their own lawsuit in the Illinois court.

The latter lawsuit was reassigned to the judge handling the Par 4 Transport case on July 28. The lawsuit filed by the six North Lima, Ohio carriers was reassigned to the same judge – Judge Joan Gottschall – on Aug. 15.

Navistar is battling lawsuits in multiple jurisdictions. Newport News, VA-based logistics company and fleet GCKMAT had sued Navistar over the engines in April 2013 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern Texas district. Although Navistar responded promptly with a motion to dismiss, Judge Barbara Lynn did not rule formally on the request until Aug. 18. She declared that GCKMAT had adequately pleaded its claims for fraud and fraud by nondisclosure and that any objections to those claims should be resolved during a trial or summary judgment.

Also, Navistar is facing separate lawsuits in three different states – Texas, Tennessee and Washington – that were filed on behalf of Americorp Xpress Carriers LLC, First Express Inc., and Floyd Blinsky Trucking Inc.

Unable to resolve satisfactorily some thorny technical and regulatory challenges with the MaxxForce Advanced EGR engines, Navistar announced in July 2012 that it was giving up on EGR technology for its heavy-duty engines and was switching to the selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology used by all of its competitors to meet the 2010 Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

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