It isn’t unusual for auto manufacturers to be sued for faulty parts that are dangerous to passengers and others on the road. But Volkswagen has acknowledged that it equipped millions of diesel vehicles with faulty emissions sensors, potentially creating a health risk to anyone breathing air in Texas. About 32,000 of the “clean diesel” vehicles were purchased in the state.
The “defeat devices,” as they are called, could cheat emissions tests to make them compliant with U.S. air quality standards, making the car appear to run cleaner that it actually did. The Texas Attorney General is seeking penalties against the manufacturer, as well as Audi, for violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act, as well as clean air standards. The suit seeks restitution of over $1 million as well as civil penalties which could amount to $20,000 for each violation of the laws.
The head of Volkswagen in the U.S. has acknowledged the use of the devices and has apologized to American consumers. But the amount of damage done to the environment in Texas and across the country cannot be measured. An estimated 480,000 vehicles with the faulty devices were sold in the U.S. with about 11 million of the vehicles sold around the world.
Harris County and Dallas city officials filed suit against the company, but the Dallas lawsuit has been merged into the suit filed by the Attorney General. Texas law provides for a stiff penalty for the violations, with $50 up to $25,000 in penalties which are assessed per violation and for each day the defective car was in use.
Unfortunately, manufacturers will often use unsafe or unhealthy measures to cut costs or promote sales. Such unethical practices can be subject to lawsuits by individuals or government entities. When the defects affect the public as a whole, as in this case, the government may file suit to address the damage to many individuals or to a population as a whole. Individual suits may also be filed when someone can prove that the defect affected them on a personal level. If you have been injured by a defective product, consult an attorney with experience in products liability litigation to determine your rights.
Source: The Dallas Morning News, “Dallas decides not to go after Volkswagen over air quality after state files lawsuit Thursday,” Oct. 9, 2015
Secondary Source: Houston Chronicle, “Texas sues VW, Audi over emissions cheating,” Lauren McGaughy, Oct. 8, 2015