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German car manufacturer Volkswagen is facing global scrutiny, and a massive worldwide recall, after a scheme to defraud both environmental agencies and consumers was uncovered. Earlier this fall, a letter from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accused the car manufacturer of violating the federal Clean Air Act by both selling cars whose emissions contained pollutants above legal limits, and for enabling the cars to nevertheless pass inspections. 

The EPA claims that software known as a "defeat device" was installed in a number of Volkswagen and Audi models which functioned to limit the amount of pollutants emitted by the vehicles during smog testing. When the cars in question were driving normally, they emitted an amount of nitrogen oxide that was 40 times over the legally permitted amount under the Clean Air Act.

The company has admitted that it installed the software, admitted "full responsibility" for defrauding the EPA and consumers, and has also apologized to the American congressional energy committee for the scam. Volkswagen announced its intention to allocate roughly $7 billion to service the recalled vehicles and "win back the trust of our customers." However, some experts have estimated that the actual costs of a recall could be five times that amount. The Volkswagen CEO has also announced that it will not attempt to apply for American emissions clearance for 2016 models with diesel engines.

Promises to remove the defeat device will not undo the fraud perpetrated on consumers, however, and many are fighting back with lawsuits against the car manufacturer. Nearly 500,000 cars with the defeat device were sold in the US between 2009 and 2015, and lawsuits have now been filed in a number of states for the losses that will not be undone by removal of the defeat device. Volkswagen owners are suing for the loss in resale value that these cars will suffer, as well as the lost value to the consumer from the cars not being as environmentally friendly as bargained for, and the losses in performance and fuel efficiency anticipated with the removal of the defeat devices.

If you have purchased a defectively-manufactured or fraudulently-marketed product, contact the Morristown products liability attorneys at Smith & Doran for an evaluation of your claims, at 973-292-0016.

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