Mercury seeks to settle class action suit

FOND DU LAC, Wis. – Outboard engine manufacturer Mercury Marine has proposed to settle a class action lawsuit filed against it in spring 2003 by owners of 2.5- and 3.0-liter OptiMax engines from model years 2000, 2001 and 2002, reported Steve Fleming, Mercury Marine director of communications, in an interview yesterday.

Those who filed the suit – Lazo vs. Mercury – allege that these engines contain fuel injection and power head component defects, according to a legal notice Mercury Marine plans to post in Field & Stream magazine next month.

Through the proposed settlement, “settlement class members” may be eligible for an extended warranty on the direct fuel injection and power head components. Those members who paid for repairs of the components and/or whose engines required three or more warranty repairs of the components may be eligible for rebates on the purchase of Mercury and Quicksilver parts and accessories and on the purchase of a new OptiMax engine, the legal notice stated.

The proposed settlement is not an admission of guilt on the part of Mercury, Fleming said.

“We feel that Optimax has performed spectacularly in recent years, and will be in our product line for years to come,” commented Fleming. “It performed well as a new product, though not as well during the years in question. And it has performed extremely well since then.”

A settlement hearing is scheduled to take place at the Miami-Dade County Courthouse in Miami, Fla. on September 9 at 10:30 am. During the hearing, it will be determined: “1. whether the proposed settlement of these actions is fair, reasonable, and adequate; 2. whether a final judgment should be entered dismissing the litigation on the merits as to the manufacturers of the OptiMax engines; and 3. whether applications to be made by class counsel for payment of fees and reimbursement of expenses and an incentive fee award to plaintiffs should be approved by the court,” according to the legal notice.

Fleming said Mercury expects the proposed settlement to be approved. The company chose not to comment on the monetary value of the settlement nor the number of engine owners involved in the lawsuit.

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- Liz Walz

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