Volkswagen Consumer Class Action

Updated: September 28, 2015

Status: Ongoing Case

On September 25, 2015, Labaton Sucharow filed a nationwide consumer class action against Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., arising out of the wide-scale fraud concerning Volkswagen’s “Clean Diesel” vehicles. The plaintiffs seek injunctive relief and damages arising out of years of Volkswagen’s deceptive actions.

For the past six years, Volkswagen has misled hundreds of thousands of U.S. consumers and lied to government regulators about the core features of its four cylinder diesel-engine vehicles. Volkswagen falsely marketed its Clean Diesel vehicles as fuel efficient, high performance, and environmentally friendly. Despite its claims to the contrary, Volkswagen developed diesel vehicles that emitted pollutants at up to 40 times the legal limit under federal and state law. To conceal these noxious emissions, Volkswagen designed and installed a complex software algorithm called a “defeat device.” The device provides full emissions controls on the vehicles only during official emissions tests. At any other time, during normal driving conditions, the emission controls are deactivated and the vehicles emit extremely high levels of pollutants.

Volkswagen has only just now admitted its role in designing and installing defeat devices in its Clean Diesel vehicles, only after the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resource Board both launched investigations into the wrongdoing. However, because the fraud has been ongoing for at least six years, Volkswagen reaped considerable profits. Consumers purchased Clean Diesel vehicles at a several-thousand-dollar premium over ordinary gasoline engine vehicles. And now, despite the EPA’s order that Volkswagen must bring its vehicles into compliance with emission regulations, consumers will be deprived of the benefits that Volkswagen promised throughout its sales and marketing brochures

Case Materials