FCA named in second diesel engine lawsuit

Michael Wayland

A class-action lawsuit alleging that diesel-powered heavy-duty pickups made by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV used defeat devices intended to cheat emissions testing was filed Friday in United States District Court in Detroit. At least one other lawsuit involving the heavy-duty pickups had been filed earlier.

The latest lawsuit names FCA US, the company’s North American-based operations, as well as engine supplier Cummins Inc. It accuses the companies of using software designed to conceal its vehicles’ emissions in more than 450,000 heavy-duty 2500 and 3500 Dodge and Ram pickups from the 2007-2012 model years with 6.7-liter diesel engines from Cummins.

The suit, which includes plaintiff Jeremy Perdue, of North Carolina, is similar to another class-action lawsuit filed in November by four plaintiffs in California and Texas against both companies.

Both suits include accusations of racketeering as well as breach and violation of warranties, fraudulent concealment and breach of contract.

U.S. regulators including the Environmental Protection Agency have made no such allegations against the companies.

Representatives from the companies could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday. However, both denied the accusations in November.

“Based on the information available to it, FCA US does not believe that the claims brought against it are meritorious,” the company previously said. “FCA US will contest this lawsuit vigorously.”

Cummins spokesman Jon M. Mills said in November, “We’re deeply disappointed in the effort to tarnish our image and we will vigorously defend ourselves. We’ve had a great partnership with Chrysler for more than 30 years and our companies continue to be committed to putting our customers first.”

Both lawsuits request a jury trial and seek compensatory damages and other financial relief.

The lawsuits are separate from a class-action lawsuit filed Dec. 1 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California that alleges diesel models of the automaker’s Ram 1500 light-duty pickup and Jeep Grand Cherokee models were engineered to deceive emissions testers.

That suit names the automaker as well as supplier Robert Bosch GmbH of installing software to mask excess exhaust emissions. The German-based supplier was behind the software tied to German automaker Volkswagen AG’s diesel emissions-cheating scandal that led to a $14.7 billion settlement.

Wolfsburg-based VW faces an industry-record $16.5 billion in criminal and civil litigation fines after admitting last year that its diesel cars were outfitted with a devices that lowered emissions to legal levels only when it detected the vehicle was being tested.

Volkswagen has agreed to a settlement with U.S. regulators that calls for the company to spend about $10 billion to fix or buy back about 475,000 polluting 2.0-liter vehicles as a part of a $14.7 billion deal between regulators and the beleaguered German automakers. Under that agreement, Volkswagen will compensate owners who purchased the diesels before September 2015 with payments of $5,100 to $10,000, depending on the age of the car.


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