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This Guy Sued Mercedes Because His Seats Weren't Leather Enough

Lawsuit / 16 Comments

This is one of the silliest lawsuits we've seen.

There are plenty of viable reasons to sue a car company - life-threatening engine fires, fatal airbag defaults, and overheating engines all spring to mind. Not all lawsuits are created equally, however, and some are downright frivolous. According to The Daily Mail, UK resident Kerry Costello (age 72) successfully sued Mercedes after noticing his E300 Cabriolet seats may not have been leather as described.

Costello paid £35,000 (around $45,000) for a used E300, believing that the seats were made of leather. Base E-Class models use a synthetic material called Artico, which can be upgraded to real leather for £912.50 (around $1,200).

After reading another story in The Daily Mail, Costello became skeptical about the leather in his car. He had a sample sent to a laboratory to be tested and the results showed parts of the seats were made of polyurethane. After Mercedes refused to answer Costello's question about what the seats were made of, he took his inquiry to the Motor Ombudsman, the UK's regulatory body for the motor industry. The Ombudsman spoke to Mercedes, who said the seat was leather, "but uses other materials to give it rigidity and structure." Since Costello didn't purchase the car new, Mercedes said he did not incur a loss on the car.

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The arbitrator from the Ombudsman said, "I think that if documents say the interior is leather, the assumption would be that this is full leather." Costello argued that "I paid a lot of money for this car and expected an accurate description of what I was paying for. If other drivers follow the same path as me I expect they will get the same result." Even though Mercedes claimed the amount of leather in the seats comply with the rules for what counts as leather, the automaker was forced to pay out £850 (around $1,100).