Edmonton firm files $1B class action lawsuit against Volkswagen

An Edmonton law firm has filed a $1-billion class action lawsuit against Volkswagen over the emerging emissions scandal.

Volkswagen 'negligent, defrauded its customers, and engaged in unfair competition,' suit claims

Volkswagen is facing several class action lawsuits after news that the German carmaker had rigged U.S. emissions tests. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

An Edmonton law firm has filed a $1-billion class action lawsuit against Volkswagen over the emerging emissions scandal.

James H. Brown & Associates is suing the car company after it was revealed this weekend that Volkswagen had installed software on 11 million vehicles worldwide designed to ace emissions tests, but without meeting standards. 

The lawsuit states that "by manufacturing, testing, distributing and selling affected vehicles with defeat devices that allowed for improper levels of emission, Volkswagen violated the common law and legislative standards, was negligent, defrauded its customers, and engaged in unfair competition."

The notice identified the following models in the action:

  • 2009-2015 Jetta
  • 2009-2015 Beetle
  • 2009-2015 VW Golf
  • 2014-2015 Passat
  • 2009-2015 Audi A3

The lawsuit states that, had the plaintiffs known of the defeat device, "they would not have purchased or leased those vehicles, or would have paid substantially less for the vehicles than they did."

'Highhanded and reckless'

It goes on to criticize the deception as "high-handed and reckless, intentional, fraudulent or grossly negligent," worthy of a penalty that "recognizes the purposes of class actions" while protecting consumers and punishing or deterring "wrongful corporate conduct." 

"What we're hearing from a lot of people is the real concern loss of value to the vehicle on resale, the hassle they're going to have to go through to get repaired so they meet Canadian emission standards, and whether in fact the vehicles can even be repaired without significant loss to power and performance," said Rick Mallet, lawyer with James H. Brown and Associates.

"The exact amount is up the court to determine initially, but it seems to be pretty clear it's going to be thousands of dollars per vehicle."

Volkswagen has set aside almost $10 billion Cdn to update the vehicles, but that figure doesn't include any fines or legal costs. 

The Environmental Protection Agency says it could fine the company as much as $18 billion US, and other countries have launched probes into the issue.

More than two dozen class-action lawsuits have already been launched, including ones by Regina-based lawyer Tony Merchant, who has filed claims in the courts of B.C., Ontario and Quebec and expects to file soon in Saskatchewan and other provinces. 

Filing a class action lawsuit is a first step in the litigation of alleged claims.


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