A class action lawsuit was filed last month in a Michigan federal court against the U.S. unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and engine maker Cummins Inc. The proposed racketeering class action alleges that Dodge Ram trucks with diesel engines hid the trucks’ emissions of illegally high levels of pollutants. In the complaint, consumers accused Chrysler and engine manufacturer Cummins of conspiring to knowingly deceive consumers and regulators that Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 trucks equipped with the Cummins 6.7-liter turbo diesel engine were emitting dangerous levels of nitrogen oxides. The complaint states:
The defendants never disclosed to consumers that the affected vehicles may be “clean” diesels in very limited circumstances, but are “dirty” diesels under most driving conditions.
The Dodge Ram trucks outfitted with the Cummins 6.7-liter turbo diesel engine contained a technology to trap and break down pollutants that was meant to limit the amount of NOx escaping in the exhaust of the engines. However, more pollutants were emitted than allowed by California and federal law when the trucks were traveling for long distances or traveling up hills. For example, the legal limit of NOx emissions for stop-and-go driving is 200 milligrams per mile. When tested, the Dodge Ram 2500s emitted 702 milligrams per mile, with a maximum emission of 2,826 milligrams per mile. The California NOx limit for highway conditions is 400 milligrams per mile, but testing for the 2500 Dodge Ram shows an average of 756 and maximum of 2,252 milligrams per mile.
The complaint has claims for fraudulent concealment, false advertising, and violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act and consumer protection laws. The consumers accuse Chrysler, now officially known as FCA US LLC, and Cummins of intentionally misleading the public, concealing emissions levels, illegally selling noncompliant polluting vehicles, knowingly profiting from the dirty diesels and using fraudulently gained emissions credits from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to use on further production of high-polluting vehicles.
The affected Cummins diesel engines concealed true emissions output, and resulted in wearing out the catalytic converter more quickly, meaning the vehicle burned fuel at a higher rate. This often required truck owners to replace the converter after the warranty had expired at a cost of approximately $3,000 to $5,000. The accusations in this case against Chrysler and Cummins are very much like the claims made against Volkswagen AG in its emissions-cheating scandal.
The truck owners are represented by Steve W. Berman and Jerrod C. Patterson of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, Christopher A. Seeger of Seeger Weiss LLP, James E. Cecchi of Carella Byrne Cecchi Olstein Brody & Agnello PC, Robert C. Hilliard of Hilliard Munoz Gonzales LLP, and E. Powell Miller and Sharon S. Almonrode of The Miller Law Firm PC. The case is James Bledsoe et al. v. FCA USA LLC et al. in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
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