Business

West Side Transport sues engine manufacturer over warranty for defective truck parts

West Side Transport in southwest Cedar Rapids. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
West Side Transport in southwest Cedar Rapids. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

West Side Transport has sued a Columbus, Ind., company it accuses of reneging on warranty promises to fix defective truck engines.

The Cedar Rapids-based transportation and logistics company last week filed a federal lawsuit against engine manufacturer Cummins Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa.

West Side is seeking an unspecified amount over $75,000 for counts including breach of express warranty and oral contract.

The transportation company bought approximately 135 semi-trucks with Cummins engines for delivery between April 2014 and May 2015, according to the lawsuit.

Though West Side purchased five-year, 500,000-mile extended warranties on each engine, it did not receive written documents from Cummins.

Within that period, West Side’s attorneys argued in court documents, the engines experienced piston, piston ring and liner issues, resulting in their consumption of an excessive amount of oil and, ultimately, catastrophic failure.

West Side said 90 engines fell within a serial number range Cummins identified as having defects, and noted that other engines outside that range experienced defects, too.

The Cedar Rapids company submitted its entire fleet of Cummins engines to the manufacturer for overhaul in October 2017.

That same month, during a meeting at West Side’s office, Cummins representatives “falsely represented” that only 5 percent of the defective engines would need to be overhauled, based on analysis of failure rates, the lawsuit says.

The representatives reportedly told their West Side counterparts that the transportation company should wait to submit each engine for repair until they surpassed a threshold of burning one gallon of oil every 3,500 miles — a suggestion West Side followed for the next 20 months, until this year.

“At no point during the meeting or afterward did Cummins suggest that the defective engines would not be repaired under the warranty if they reached the threshold oil burn rate more than five years from the date of delivery,” wrote attorneys Matthew Preston, Brad Brady and David Meyers, on behalf of West Side in court documents.

But on Aug. 7, Cummins denied West Side an engine repair, asserting “for the first time” that it would not honor warranty claims more than five years after delivery, the West Side lawyers said.

Cummins intended for West Side to rely on its October 2017 pledge in delaying repair of the defective engines until after they passed the specified oil-burning threshold, to Cummins’ financial benefit, West Side’s attorneys alleged.

“As a result of its reliance on Cummins’ false representations and agreement, West Side delayed bringing this (lawsuit) against Cummins within five years of taking delivery of the engines at issue,” they wrote.

West Side said the warranties also state that the engines must conform to U.S. emission regulations, with no material or factory workmanship defects that would cause them to fall short during the warranty period and, therefore, future performance is covered.

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The Cedar Rapids company is seeking a judgment in “an amount that will fully compensate” it for damages, including from the loss of resale value on the trucks, loss of use of trucks and repair costs not covered by Cummins.

Comments: (319) 398-8366; thomas.friestad@thegazette.com

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