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The Nose Knows: Toyota sued in Florida over bacteria-laden A/C vents

Toronto, Ontario — Have you ever produced a smell so awful that a class action lawsuit was filed against you? This isn’t referring to your family’s complaints about athlete’s foot (though you really should get that checked) but to a case leveled against Toyota in the state of Florida.

Within a week of Jose Javier Perez purchasing his new 2020 Toyota Prius Prime in August 2019, what he could smell coming from his air conditioning vents was anything but a new car smell, according to a recent report from CarComplaints.

Through investigations carried out as part of the lawsuit, which was first launched in January of this year, the odour was determined to be caused by “[m]icrobes growing on the evaporator surface” and “small living bacteria…carried into the evaporator case [that] grow in the warm, moist environment.”

The alleged defects in Prius HVAC systems have been identified in numerous model years and trim levels from as far back as 2006. The affected models include the  2006-2020 Prius, 2017-2020 Prius Prime, 2010-2015 Prius Plug-in Hybrid,  2012-2016 Prius c and 2012-2017 Prius v.

Toyota initially attempted to have the suit dismissed, but was denied by Judge Otis D. Wright due to Perez’s claim to the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA), where he alleges Toyota failed to disclose the defect to customers.

Toyota was, however, granted its motion to dismiss Perez’s implied and express warranty claims.

Perez then elected to amend and refile his complaints against Toyota, striking out the claim of a breach of express warranty.

The automaker then filed another motion to dismiss the implied warranty claim on the grounds that Perez did not purchase his Prius directly from Toyota. The judge granted this motion based on several historical precedents.

Perez now has until Feb. 22, 2023 to file a motion to certify a class action lawsuit, after which point Toyota will have until March 15, 2023 to file its motion to deny class certification.

The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida: Jose Javier Perez, vs. Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., et al.

The plaintiff is represented by Kopelowitz Ostrow Ferguson Weiselberg Gilbert, Gordon and Partners, and Edelsberg Law.

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