Lawsuit filed against GM over Chevy diesel emissions

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

A class-action lawsuit was filed Wednesday in federal court in California, alleging General Motors Co. and Chevrolet falsely and deceptively marketed its Cruze Diesel as a “clean vehicle.” The suit also claims that GM and Chevy used emissions-cheating software that allowed the vehicles to pollute at higher than standard levels.

The lawsuit, filed by the Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro law firm in Seattle on behalf of six individuals, is seeking buybacks, reimbursement for the $2,000 or more premium customers paid over the gasoline Cruze model and compensation based on any “fix” and extended warranties that aren’t used. The lawsuit also seeks punitive damages.

One complainant named in the lawsuit is from Michigan. The lawsuit says Jason Counts of Vassar bought a 2014 Cruze Diesel in February 2014 from Sundance Chevrolet in Grand Ledge.

GM said in a statement, “These claims are baseless and we will vigorously defend ourselves. GM believes the Chevrolet Cruze turbo diesel complies with all U.S. EPA and CARB emissions regulations.”

Diesel emissions were brought into the limelight after Volkswagen AG admitted last year that it had cheated on U.S. diesel pollution tests. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has only said one automaker, Volkswagen, has used software to cheat on diesel emissions testing.

The lawsuit says plaintiffs have tested the Cruze Diesel using a portable emissions measurement system and found that in some cases the vehicle failed to meet U.S. emissions standards.

“Diesel emissions fraud didn’t stop with Volkswagen or Mercedes,” Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman, said in a statement. “GM has proven that it too placed greed and profits ahead of thousands of owners who paid premium prices for what they thought were clean diesel cars.”

The 308-page filing cites a German environmental group’s report that GM’s Opel brand uses a device that disables some pollution controls under some speeds and temperatures. Opel and GM have repeatedly denied they use any illegal software or any defeat device and say their engines are compliant. GM and Opel said the allegations made by the group were based on “misleading oversimplifications and misinterpretations of the complicated interrelationships of a modern emissions control system of a diesel engine.”

The law firm is a member of a court-appointed committee in a case against Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche emissions cheating and is lead counsel in a similar case filed against Mercedes-Benz for allegedly using a “defeat device” software to cheat on emissions tests.

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