A New Jersey appeals court has rejected Volkswagen’s argument that the federal Clean Air Act preempts state court actions in the company’s emissions cheating scandal. The three-judge appellate panel affirmed trial court rulings denying motions by Volkswagen Group of America Inc. to dismiss the complaints from two consumer fraud cases. The panel said the cases are not barred by the act’s prohibition on efforts by any state or related political subdivision to enforce emissions standards because the matters center on the company’s allegedly deceitful behavior. The panel said:
It may well be that plaintiffs will prove their vehicles failed to comply with EPA emission standards, something VW has publicly acknowledged, but the gravamen of plaintiffs’ complaint centers on VW’s alleged deceitful, fraudulent practices, and its alleged breach of a duty not to mislead consumers. We conclude § 7543(a) [of the act] does not expressly preempt plaintiffs’ causes of action.
The cases are David L. Felix et al v. Volkswagen Group of America Inc. et al and Eduardo Deang v. Volkswagen Group of America Inc. et al, (case numbers A-0585-16T3 and A-0586-16T3) in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division.
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