The situation seems to worsen for Volkswagen, nearly four months since it was rocked by a scandal centered on the corporation's admitted cheating on auto emissions standards. On the other hand, things might soon look up for dealers, consumers and others who have filed Volkswagen lawsuits in an attempt to be made whole after buying vehicles that were not as advertised.
The Volkswagen Litigation Team at Reich & Binstock represents owners of Volkswagen cars that contained "defeat devices" that masked in vehicle emissions tests the level of nitrogen oxide pollution that their so-called "clean diesel" engines actually released during normal operation.
The deception left the owners of about 600,000 models with vehicles of a lower resale value, decreased engine performance, and costly diminished fuel efficiency. The owners are also saddled with a vehicle they may not have purchased in the first place had they known about that which class action lawsuits allege is fraud and deceptive trade practices.
A recap is in order.
In September, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a notice of violation against VW for outfitting 2009 through 2015 Volkswagen and Audi diesel 2.0-liter cars with defeat devices.
In November, EPA slapped VW with a second notice of violation for equipping 3.0-liter engines for model years 2014 through 2016 with technology that circumvents emissions ceilings.
"On November 19, Volkswagen officials informed EPA that the defeat device has existed in all of its U.S. 3.0-liter diesel models since 2009," according to an EPA report.
In December, so many Volkswagen lawsuits have been filed - and so many more Volkswagen actions are expected to be filed - that the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation centralized federal Volkswagen lawsuits before a single judge in Northern California to create a more efficient coordinated pretrial process.
Earlier this month, according to published reports, VW worldwide sales in 2015 were down 2 percent, the first drop in more than a decade. Then Volkswagen's CEO had a face-to-face meeting scheduled in the U.S. with EPA brass, where there would be a lot of explaining to do.
And, now, the cherry on the volcano.
Volkswagen has the Justice Department looking up its tailpipe. The U.S. Justice Department filed a civil complaint against Volkswagen and against several of its divisions in a Detroit federal court. The lawsuit alleges emissions subterfuge and Clean Air Act violations.
"Car manufacturers that fail to properly certify their cars and that defeat emission control systems breach the public trust, endanger public health and disadvantage competitors," Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden said in a statement. "The United States will pursue all appropriate remedies against Volkswagen to redress the violations of our nation's clean air laws alleged in the complaint."
The Justice Department filed its Volkswagen lawsuit on behalf of the EPA. So it makes sense that the EPA would chime in - bringing up a potential "recall."
"With today's filing, we take an important step to protect public health by seeking to hold Volkswagen accountable for any unlawful air pollution, setting us on a path to resolution," Assistant EPA Administrator Cynthia Giles said Jan. 4. "So far, recall discussions with the company have not produced an acceptable way forward. These discussions will continue in parallel with the federal court action."
And this particular federal action is the beginning, not the culmination, of the efforts to hold Volkswagen accountable.
"Today's complaint is the first stage in bringing Volkswagen to justice for failing to disclose the defeat device while seeking certification for its diesel vehicles from EPA's Office of Transportation and Air Quality in Ann Arbor, Michigan," U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade with the Eastern District of Michigan added.
If you own one of the affected vehicles, the Volkswagen Litigation attorneys at Reich & Binstock will fight hard to protect your rights, no matter what state you live in. Click this link or call toll-free 1-866-LAW-2400 for a free consultation.
Affected 2.0-liter diesel models and model years
- Jetta (2009-2015)
- Jetta Sportwagen (2009-2014)
- Beetle (2013-2015)
- Beetle Convertible (2013-2015)
- Audi A3 (2010-2015)
- Golf (2010-2015)
- Golf Sportwagen (2015)
- Passat (2012-2015)
Affected 3.0-liter diesel vehicle models and model years
- Volkswagen Touareg (2009-2016)
- Porsche Cayenne (2013-2016)
- Audi A6 Quattro (2014-2016)
- Audi A7 Quattro (2014-2016)
- Audi A8 (2014-2016)
- Audi A8L (2014-2016)
- Audi Q5 (2014-2016)
- Audi Q7 (2009-2016)