A class action lawsuit on behalf of Vermont Volkswagen car owners has been filed against Volkswagen companies in Germany and the United States over damages they suffered as a result of the company’s falsification of emissions testing equipment. 

The suit was filed on September 23, 2015 in Chittenden Superior Court by former federal prosecutor Tristram J. Coffin of the firm Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC. Charlotte resident Robert Turnau is the representative class plaintiff.

“Vermonters who bought these cars were led to believe that not only were they taking advantage of clean-burning low sulfur diesel being used in a very efficient diesel engine, but also that the car’s emissions profile was better than gasoline-powered cars and met or exceeded all federal standards,” Coffin said. “It turns out to be a fraud. Now, these owners face lost value, unknown repairs, the disruption of a massive recall, and the substantial cost and hassle of owning a lemon because of a decision they made when they tried to do the right thing for the environment.” 

This week the Volkswagen company admitted to federal officials that it had installed software in its cars that would intentionally provide false information to technicians during emissions tests. The software was installed in up to 11 million vehicles worldwide.  The suit alleges that the companies violated Vermont’s Consumer Protection Act by knowingly selling cars that would fail to meet emissions standards if properly tested, and that the company intentionally designed and installed software that would change the way the engine performed only when it was being tested.

Members of the class include all Vermonters who bought or owned diesel-powered Volkswagen Jetta, Golf, Passat or Audi A3 automobiles with model years from 2008 to the present.  Potential parties number in the thousands.  They allege that buyers paid a higher price for the vehicles as compared to gasoline powered vehicles, in part because of company claims about lower emissions. Likewise, the value of the cars is lower because of the deception, and owners face unknown challenges in bringing the cars into compliance with federal regulations.

In bringing the suit, Coffin heads a litigation team at DRM that also includes DRM Directors Robert B. Luce and Marc B. Heath.

A copy of the complaint is available here

Follow the story with these links.

Vermonters sue over VW’s emissions trickery, Burlington Free Press, October 15, 2015

Vt. law firm files class-action suit against Volkswagen, WCAX, September 23, 2015

Vermonter files class-action lawsuit over alleged Volkswagen fraud, VT Digger, September 23, 2015

Amid Emissions Scandal, Vermonters Launch Class-Action Lawsuit Against Volkswagen, VPR, September 23, 2015

Nearly 3,000 Vt. Cars Could Be Affected By VW Scandal; State Launches Inquiry, VPR, September 23, 2015