Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog

Nationwide VW Emissions Class Action Lawsuits Filed

Nationwide VW Recall Class Action Lawsuits Filed

“Truth in Engineering” is Audi’s official slogan. Sadly, the Audi A3 and multiple Volkswagen cars with diesel engines were allegedly engineered to deceive. This is one of the allegations in separate class action complaints filed yesterday and Tuesday by Audi and VW owners represented by Lieff Cabraser and co-counsel in federal courts in New Jersey and California.

At the heart of the complaints is the charge that for over six years VW intentionally and systematically cheated its customers, lied to the government, and misled the public about the efficacy of four-cylinder diesel engine vehicles sold under the Volkswagen and Audi brands.

Diesel vehicles are generally more fuel efficient and powerful than gasoline engines. Diesel engines, however, emit higher levels of certain pollutants as a by-product of combustion. VW attempted to address this problem with its so-called “clean diesel” vehicles.

“VW marketed its ‘clean diesel’ vehicles as high performing, fuel efficient, and environmentally-friendly and consumers bought them for that combination of features,” explains attorney Elizabeth Cabraser of Lieff Cabraser. “In truth, VW’s clean diesel vehicles are anything but clean. VW sold its customers a car that doesn’t exist, and VW needs to make this right. Owners are stuck — they’re reporting that their cars are unsaleable.”

As revealed last week by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, nearly 500,000 VW and Audi diesel cars sold in the U.S. since 2009 emit noxious pollutants at up to 40 times the legal limit allowed under federal and state law.

The vehicles covered in the class action complaints are the following:

  • 2010 – 2015 Audi A3
  • 2012 – 2015 Volkswagen Beetle
  • 2012 – 2015 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible
  • 2010 – 2015 Volkswagen Golf
  • 2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen
  • 2009 – 2015 Volkswagen Jetta
  • 2009 – 2014 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen
  • 2012 – 2015 Volkswagen Passat

As alleged in the complaint, VW sold these vehicles with a “defeat device.” This is sophisticated software that detects when the car is undergoing official emissions testing and only then engages the car’s full emissions control system. At all other times, the emission controls are de-activated, and the cars emit extremely high, and illegal, levels of pollutants.

The lawsuits seek statutory penalties and compensatory, exemplary, and punitive damages for the class members — all persons who purchased or leased the violating VW and Audi diesel cars.

The lawsuits also seek several orders, including:

  1. An order compelling Volkswagen to buy back the Class Vehicles on fair and equitable terms; and
  2. A declaration that the Volkswagen must disgorge for the benefit of the class members, all or part of the ill-gotten profits received from the sale or lease of the vehicles on the emissions violations list, and make full restitution to class members.

Legal Resources For VW and Audi Consumers

If you purchased or leased one of the diesel engine VW or Audi vehicles on the emissions violations list, please visit our Audi/VW emissions recall page to contact a consumer attorney at Lieff Cabraser.

We welcome the opportunity to learn of your experiences with your vehicle and answer your questions.

About Lieff Cabraser

Recognized as “one of the nation’s premier plaintiffs’ firms” by The American Lawyer, Lieff Cabraser has successfully litigated and settled hundreds of class action lawsuits, including cases requiring auto manufacturers to pay for the diminished value of cars due to fraud or defects in the vehicles. One of the largest law firms in the U.S. that represents only plaintiffs, Lieff Cabraser has spearheaded litigation against GM for its ignition switch defect and against Toyota for sudden, unintended acceleration accidents.

Trademark Notice

Jetta, Beetle, Audi A3, Golf, and Passat are registered trademarks of Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. and/or Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft. The use of these trademarks is solely for company and product identification and informational purposes. Volkswagen Group is not in any way affiliated with Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP. Nothing in the press release has been authorized or approved by Volkswagen Group.

Attorney Advertising Notice

This press release may be considered attorney advertising in certain jurisdictions. Any testimonial or endorsement does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. Every legal matter is different. The outcome of your claim or case depends upon many factors, including the specific facts of your claim or case. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.


Elizabeth J. Cabraser
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP