Following close on the heels of the Volkswagen emissions scandal, class action lawsuits have been filed against Volkswagen Group of America and Volkswagen AG for allegedly concealing suspension problems with certain model years of the Volkswagen CC. According to the allegations of the lawsuits:
6. All of the Class Vehicles at issue in this litigation share a common, uniform defect: faulty suspensions, shocks, and struts, which cause rapid and uneven wear and premature degradation of the vehicle’s tires—an effect often referred to as “Tire Cupping.”
7. The Defendants have known about the Alignment Defect for years. Thus far, however, the Defendants have offered no remedy to correct the Alignment Defect, except to replace the Class Vehicles’ tires with new tires—at the owners’ expense.
8. But, because the Alignment Defect derives from a defect in the Class Vehicles’ suspensions, shocks, and struts, it cannot be corrected by simply replacing the Class Vehicles’ tires. After all, even new tires will cup, degrade, and wear prematurely as a result of the Alignment Defect—thus causing new and prolonged damages to the Class Members.
9. The Alignment Defect, which is un-repairable, is not simply an economic or aesthetic concern. It is also a serious safety hazard. A 2009 study performed by the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (“NHSTA”) showed that tire-related crashes were far more likely when the tire’s tread is worn down or degraded—which is precisely the kind of damage the Alignment Defect presents. In fact, the NHTSA study found that tires-related crashes were more likely as a vehicle’s tire tread wears, with accident rates at just 2.4% when tires were at full tread depth to 26% when the tire tread was worn out.
10. Since 2010, the Defendants knew or should have known that the Class Vehicles are defective, that they suffer from the Alignment Defect, and that they are not fit for their intended purpose of providing consumers with safe and reliable transportation. Nevertheless, the Defendants actively concealed this safety defect and failed to disclose it either to the Plaintiffs or to the Class Members.
11. The Defendants concealed the defect from the public while continuing to advertise its products as safe and reliable, showing a blatant disregard for public welfare and safety. Moreover, the Defendants violated their affirmative duty, imposed under the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation Act (the “TREAD Act”), to promptly advise customers about known defects.
Webster Book LLP is investigating these allegations. Affected Volkswagen CC owners should be aware of the protections offered under the Virginia Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits misrepresenting the approval or certification of goods or services; misrepresenting that goods or services have certain quantities, characteristics, ingredients, uses, or benefits; misrepresenting that goods or services are of a particular standard, quality, grade, style, or model; advertising or offering for sale goods that are defective without clearly and unequivocally indicating in the advertisement or offer for sale that the goods are defective; advertising goods or services with intent not to sell them as advertised; and using any other deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, or misrepresentation in connection with a consumer transaction. Va. Code §59.1-200(A)(2), (5), (6), (7), (8), and (14).
Consumers who are harmed by violations of the Act are entitled to damages for each violation in the amount of their actual damages, or $500, whichever is greater. Further, if the violation was willful, consumers may receive up to three times the actual damages sustained, or $1,000, whichever is greater. Additionally, the Act provides that the supplier who committed the violation must pay the consumer’s attorneys’ fees and court costs. Finally, even in the case of unintentional violations, the Court is empowered to award restitution and payment of reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs. If you purchased one of these Volkswagen CC vehicles, you may wish to consult with a Virginia lawyer experienced in this area of law to learn your rights.
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