Volkswagen Emissions Class Action Lawsuit Targets Dealerships

One of the latest class action lawsuits over the Volkswagen emissions problems also targets two dealerships, indicating that cars with false emissions ratings were sold to Florida residents.

The complaint was filed by Annette Dettloff in the Sixth Circuit Court in Pinellas County Florida on November 16, including not only Volkswagen but several local dealerships as defendants, including Lokey Volkswagen and Bert Smith Volkswagen.

The case joins a growing number of Volkswagen emissions lawsuits filed in recent months, since it was discovered that “cheat” software was installed on nearly 500,000 TDI “Clean Diesel” vehicles sold in the United States, which was designed to detect when the vehicles were undergoing testing and reduce emissions. However, during normal operations, the Volkswagen and Audo TDI diesel vehicles have been found to release excessive amounts of pollution.

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“Volkswagen enlisted the assistance of its local dealers to further the scheme by promoting, marketing, selling and leasing the Defective Vehicles as ‘Clean Diesel’ vehicles for the benefit of Volkswagen and its dealers,” the lawsuit states. “Volkswagen sold the Defective Vehicles, through its local dealers, to dozens of Florida consumers, including the Plaintiff, for a premium price, and Volkswagen and its dealers obtained significant profits based on the premium prices paid for the ‘Clean Diesel’ vehicles.”

Dettloff purchased a 2013 Volkswagen Passat 2.0 TDI on December 1, 2012, and her lawsuit indicates that the salespersons at the defendant dealerships made material misrepresentations and omissions about the performance, emissions and fuel efficiency of the vehicle.

The lawsuit indicates that if had she known the illegal defeat device was installed, Dettloff would not have purchased the vehicle or paid a premium for the “Clean Diesel” engine.

The Volkswagen emissions problems began in September, when it was discovered that smaller TDI “Clean Diesel” vehicles sold in recent years had similar software installed, leading to a recall for VW Beetle, VW Golf, VW Jetta, VW Passat and Audi A3 vehicles sold in various model years between 2009 and 2015.

Volkswagen marketed the vehicles as “clean diesel”, which were promoted as being better for the environment and providing better gas mileage. However, the statements appear to be part of a major fraud on consumers who were trying to be more environmentally friendly.

The EPA has said that Volkswagen could face as much as $18 billion in fines for violating Clean Air Act emissions testing laws.

A number of vehicle owners are already pursuing lawsuits in court, seeking compensation for premiums paid for the “Clean Diesel” cars, as well as substantial drops in resale value. Many vehicle owners also allege that Volkswagen should be forced to buyback the vehicles outright, would cost the automaker billions more.

As the lawsuits continues to mount, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation will hear oral arguments on December 3 about whether to centralize the federal claims before one federal judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings, as part of an MDL or multidistrict litigation.


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