A Pierce County woman is the latest person to sue Volkswagen over revelations that it installed devices in its diesel-powered cars to cheat on emissions tests.
April Sims filed a lawsuit last week in federal court on behalf of all Washington residents who own one of the diesel cars made by Volkswagen.
Across the country, millions of cars made as far back as 2009 have a “defeat device” installed, so that the car’s emissions controls are activated only when it’s undergoing emissions testing. The rest of the time, the emissions controls are off. The cars run smoother, have more power and get better gas mileage while also releasing pollutants 10 to 40 times greater than is legal, according to Sims’ lawsuit.
The company marketed these cars as “clean diesel.” The class-action lawsuit refers to them as “the Dirty Diesels.”
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Sims sued Volkswagen and its parent companies, Volkswagen AG and Audi AG, for breach of contract and violation of Washington’s consumer protection law, among other things.
The cheating scheme was announced Sept. 18 by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, who was alerted to the problem by a group of academic researchers. Since then, the number of cars involved has ballooned to 11 million worldwide and the Volkswagen CEO resigned. Authorities in Germany, where the company is headquartered, have launched a criminal investigation. In the United States, the Justice Department, state attorneys general and other regulators also are investigating.
Then there are the lawsuits. So far, Sims’ lawyer Stephen Hansen estimates almost two dozen have been filed in federal courts across the country. They probably will be consolidated and placed before one judge, given the length and complexity of the litigation.
Sims’ lawsuit is the first in Washington, Hansen said Thursday. He and his legal partners made requests through social media to find people affected by Volkswagen’s actions, and April Sims was one of the people who answered, he said.
Sims could not be reached for comment Thursday. According to the lawsuit, she owns a 2012 Passat that she would not have bought had she known the truth about the car’s environmental issues and true engine performance.
According to the lawsuit, more than 10,000 “Dirty Diesels” may have been sold in Washington state.