Toronto

'I'm really stuck': GTA Volkswagen owner left out of emissions settlement

Jacqueline Charlesworth wants to get rid of her Volkswagen, after the company was exposed for doctoring its emissions testing in 2015. But a legal loophole means she's left out of two massive class action lawsuits against the car manufacturer.

Jacqueline Charlesworth's car is originally from the U.S., but it's registered in Canada

Jacqueline Charlesworth bought a used Volkswagen Jetta from a dealer in Mississauga. It wasn't until later that she realized the car was originally from the United States. (Grant Linton/CBC)

Jacqueline Charlesworth is stuck. 

She wants to get rid of her Volkswagen, after the company was exposed for doctoring its emissions testing in 2015. But a legal loophole means she's left out of two massive class action lawsuits against the car manufacturer.

Charlesworth, who lives in the GTA, isn't eligible for the Canadian lawsuit because her car has an American VIN. And she's not eligible to be part of the American lawsuit because her car was registered in Canada.

"I'm really stuck in between two worlds," said Charlesworth.

Charlesworth bought a used Volkswagen Jetta from a dealer in Mississauga, Ont., in July 2015. At the time, she didn't realize that she had purchased an American model.

Two months later, it was revealed that Volkswagen had fitted many of its vehicles with software to fool emissions testers.

'I want my money'

Charlesworth checked to see if her car was eligible to be a part of the Canadian or American lawsuits against the company.

She learned that she couldn't take part in the Canadian lawsuit because her car was from the U.S. But, she said, Volkswagen offered her more than $13,000 as part of the American lawsuit.

Charlesworth said she was pleased with the offer and anticipating the cheque, bought another car.

Jacqueline Charlesworth says she was counting on the settlement money to support her family. She had already purchased a new car, thinking she would be eligible for a buyback from Volkswagen. (CBC)

But two weeks ago, everything changed. She got a letter from Volkswagen saying her Jetta wasn't eligible for the settlement, because it had been registered in Canada before the September 2015 cut-off date.

Charlesworth said she's frustrated — she was counting on the $13,425 to support her family. She said she's been trying to sell her Jetta on Kijiji, but nobody wants to buy what she calls a "scandal car."

Roughly 105,000 Canadians are affected by the Volkswagen emissions-cheating debacle. (Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)

"I want my money. That's it," she said.

"I don't want to be driving around a polluting car."

Charlesworth said she's contacted multiple lawyers, but has not received a response. She said she also hasn't heard anything else from Volkswagen.

Lawyers say they will pursue claim

Volkswagen Canada has declined to respond to questions about whether it plans to further compensate owners in this situation. The company also has not immediately responded to inquiries about Charlesworth.

In December, Volkswagen reached a proposed class-action lawsuit settlement that would compensate 105,000 Canadian owners affected by the emissions scandal. The total settlement is worth $2.1 billion.

David O'Connor, a partner at one of the firms representing Canadians in the class action lawsuit against Volkswagen, says he's heard of 15 to 20 people who are caught in a legal grey zone. (CBC)

David O'Connor, a partner at Roy O'Connor LLP, one of the consortium of firms working on the Canada-wide class action against Volkswagen, said it's hard to know exactly how many people are caught in the legal grey zone.

But he said 15 to 20 people have contacted law offices across Canada with similar concerns.

After the initial settlement moves forward, O'Connor said his firm plans to pursue the claim on behalf of people in Charlesworth's position.

'It's very frustrating'

In the meantime, Charlesworth said she wants this legal loophole closed.

"I don't want to have to wonder whether I'm going to get my money or not," she said.

"I don't want to have to keep driving that car and just keep waiting. I have no communication from anyone. It's very frustrating."

With files from Adrian Cheung

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