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New Class Action Filed Against VW in Florida

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Plaintiffs have filed another class action lawsuit against Volkswagen because of emissions cheating. A case was filed on November 16, 2015, in the Circuit Court of the Sixth Judicial Circuit in Pinellas County, Florida. The plaintiffs also name car dealerships Lokey Volkswagen and Bert Smith Volkswagen as defendants.

Annette Dettloff filed the complaint on behalf of herself and Florida consumers who purchased any of the diesel Volkswagen, Porsche, or Audi vehicles containing the so-called “defeat devices,” which are able to cheat on federal and state emissions tests. The case is one of a growing number filed after the Environmental Protection Agency released a “notice of violation” revealing that the automaker had installed a defeat device in some of their diesel vehicles.

Plaintiff Claims VW Dealership Misrepresented Fuel Efficiency and Emissions Performance

Dettloff states in her complaint that she visited the Lokey Volkswagen auto dealer in November 2012, to look into buying a new 2013 Volkswagen Passat. She test-drove the vehicle in the standard gasoline engine and the clean diesel engine. She says the salesperson promoted the diesel option, and made “material misrepresentations and omissions regarding the performance, fuel efficiency, and emissions” of the vehicle.

Based on this information, the plaintiff purchased the diesel Passat on December 1, 2012 from Bert Smith Volkswagen. She says salespeople at this car dealership also misrepresented the performance of the vehicle, and says she decided to buy it because of its alleged environmental-friendly, clean diesel design and fuel efficiency.

She adds that there was no way that she could have, at the time, determined that the Passat contained an illegal defeat device that concealed “the true level of pollutants emitted when the vehicle was being tested for emission levels.” Had she known about this device, she states that she would not have purchased the car.

VW Admits to Cheating on Emissions Tests

The “defeat device” installed on a number of VW diesel engines is a sophisticated software algorithm that has the capability of detecting when a vehicle is going through an emissions test. The software then causes the engine to run below normal power and performance, so that it shows on the test to emit low levels of nitrogen oxide, within legal limits.

Once the car was back on the road, however, the software would switch certain controls off so that the vehicle could run at normal power and performance levels. This increased emissions levels, particularly of nitrogen oxide, to a factor of 40 times EPA-complaint levels.

After the EPA released the notice of violation and required VW to recall several of its diesel vehicles, VW admitted to the existence of the defeat device. It seems the purpose of the device was to present the vehicles as being clean and environmentally friendly, while not compromising performance and fuel efficiency.

VW Should Buy Back Defective Vehicles

The plaintiff in this case says that VW sold defective vehicles to consumers for a premium price, deceiving them into believing they were buying compliant vehicles when actually the vehicles were out of compliance with EPA regulations. She seeks in excess of $15,000 in damages.

This VW lawsuit joins many others proceeding across the country. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) heard arguments on the proposed centralization of federal cases on December 3, 2015.