Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog

Tennessee Resident Who Purchased Car Assembled At VW’s Chattanooga Factory Files Class Action Against VW For Massive Fraud

Tennessee Resident Who Purchased Car Assembled At VW's Chattanooga Factory Files Class Action Against VW For Massive Fraud

Mark P. Chalos, managing partner of the Nashville office of the national plaintiffs’ law firm Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, announced that Jason Hess filed a nationwide class action lawsuit today in federal court in Chattanooga, Tennessee, against Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. The complaint charges that for over six years VW intentionally and systematically cheated its customers, lied to the government, and misled the public about the true emissions and performance of four-cylinder diesel engine vehicles sold under the Volkswagen and Audi brands.

Earlier this year, Hess, a resident of Nashville, Tennessee, traded in his 2009 diesel-powered Volkswagen Jetta and purchased a new, diesel-powered Volkswagen Passat from a dealer in Franklin, Tennessee. Hess’ Passat was assembled in Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tennessee, plant. “I have been a loyal VW customer and like hundreds of thousands of other customers I am outraged by VW’s massive fraud,” stated Hess. “I travel extensively by car for business and purchased VW diesel-powered cars because VW promised low emissions, high fuel efficiency vehicles.”

Diesel vehicles are generally more fuel-efficient and powerful than gasoline engines, but diesel engines emit higher levels of smog-making particulates and nitrogen oxide gases. VW attempted to address this problem with its so-called “clean diesel” vehicles.

However, as explained in the emissions violation notice from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, VW sold these vehicles with a “defeat device.” A defeat device is sophisticated software that detects when a 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.

“VW’s claim that four-cylinder diesel cars were powered by ‘clean diesel’ was a sham,” stated attorney Chalos. “For years, VW failed to disclose to the public and to consumers the presence of the defeat devices in its cars and failed to disclose their actual performance and emissions.”

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 complaint 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

The class action lawsuit seeks statutory penalties and compensatory, exemplary, and punitive damages for the class members — all persons who purchased or leased the recalled VW and Audi diesel cars.

The lawsuit also seeks several orders, including:

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

To read a copy of the complaint, visit Lieff Cabraser’s Volkswagen diesel emissions case page.

Legal Resources for VW and Audi Consumers

If you purchased or leased one of the recalled diesel engine VW or Audi vehicles, please visit Lieff Cabraser’s Audi/VW emissions violations page at 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 is a national plaintiffs’ law firm with offices in Nashville, New York, and San Francisco. 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.

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Mark P. Chalos
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP