Owners of Dodge RAM 2500 and 3500 trucks filed a class-action lawsuit against automaker Fiat Chrysler and engine-maker Cummins Inc., alleging that the two companies knowingly deceived consumers and regulators about illegally high levels of diesel emissions.
In 2012, the World Health Organization declared diesel vehicle particulate emissions to be carcinogenic, and about as dangerous as asbestos, Business Wire reports.
The lawsuit, filed November 14, 2016, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, seeks reimbursement for a proposed nationwide class of people who purchased the affected trucks. Parker Waichman notes that the lawsuit also asks punitive damages for the defendants’ unlawful behavior.
Automaker and Engine Maker Accused of Fraud and Racketeering
The lawsuit accuses Fiat Chrysler and Cummins of fraudulent concealment, false advertising, and violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act and consumer-protection laws by intentionally misleading the public, concealing emissions levels, illegally selling noncompliant polluting vehicles, knowingly profiting from the noncompliant diesels, and using fraudulently gained emissions credits from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to further production of high-polluting vehicles.
According to the complaint, the non-compliant diesel engines concealed true emissions output. This output caused the catalytic converters to wear out more quickly, and the vehicle burned fuel at a higher rate. Vehicle owners often needed to replace the converter after the warranty had expired, at a cost of approximately $3,000-$5,000.
Affected RAM trucks include these models equipped with Cummins diesel engines: 2007-2010 Dodge RAM 2500 (2WD, 4WD), 2011-2012 Dodge RAM 2500 (non-SCR systems, 2WD, 4WD), 2007-2010 Dodge RAM 3500 (2WD, 4WD) and 2011-2012 Dodge RAM 3500 (non-SCR systems, 2WD, 4WD).
An attorney representing some affected owners called the companies’ level of fraud and concealment “unconscionable,” according to Business Wire. The companies lied to consumers and made empty promises about delivering the cleanest trucks on the market. The deception allowed Fiat Chrysler and Cummins to “dominate what they saw as a profitable market.” Consumers believed they were buying non-polluting trucks but instead were driving polluting vehicles and paying thousands of dollars in repairs their trucks should not have needed
Defective Diesel Engines
In 2001, the EPA announced stringent emissions standards for heavy-duty highway diesel engine that would take effect in 2010. Chrysler and Cummins developed the 6.7-liter diesel engine with sophisticated NOx adsorber technology. This engine was supposed to have the desired combination of power and fuel economy, with emissions levels low enough to meet government standards, Business Wire reports.
The Dodge RAM trucks had a NOx adsorber catalyst system to capture and reduce NOx (mono-nitrogen oxides) into less harmful substances, such as nitrogen and oxygen. But the catalyst systems were not durable and did not meet emission standards, according to the lawsuit.
The legal limit of NOx emissions for stop-and-go driving is 200 mg/mile. Dodge RAM 2500s emitted 702 mg/mile on average, and 2,826 mg/mile at maximum emissions. The California NOx limit for highway conditions is 400 mg/mile. Testing for the RAM 2500 shows an average of 756 and max of 2,252 mg/mile. During these periods of excessive emissions, the vehicle’s on-board diagnostic system does not capture fault codes or provide any indication of excessive emissions.
The lawsuit notes that Dodge RAM 2500 and 3500 are marketed as having the “‘strongest, cleanest, quietest’” diesel engine in its class. The advertising uses phrases such as “squeaky clean,” “super clean,” “so clean it warrants a class of its own,” and “durability so impressive, it approaches the inexhaustible.” The lawsuit states that the successful marketing of the defective polluting vehicles is due to “tight collaboration” among the RICO defendants.
The complaint states the defendants’ actions amount to a scheme to increase revenue and profits and to increase the emissions credits they earned thereby allowing them to sell dirty vehicles as well as the supposedly clean vehicles.
Fiat Chrysler is not the only automaker to be caught in a diesel emissions scandal. Many Volkswagen diesel cars sold in the U.S. had a “defeat device” that could detect when the engine was being tested and change performance to improve test results. In October, a federal judge approved a $14.7-billion settlement so that owners of affected cars receive compensation, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Legal Help for Owners of Defective Dodge RAM Trucks
If you or someone you know owns a polluting Dodge RAM truck, you may have be entitled to compensation. For a free, no obligation case evaluation, contact the attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP today. You can reach the firm by filling out the online form or calling 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).