Judge says lawsuit can continue that alleges 2014 Chevrolet Cruze cars have 'defeat devices'

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Judge says lawsuit can continue that alleges 2014 Chevrolet Cruze cars have 'defeat devices'

— A Chevy Cruze emissions lawsuit will continue after U.S. District Judge Thomas L. Ludington denied in part GM's motion to dismiss the complaint that alleges 2014 Chevrolet Cruze cars are equipped with illegal emissions defeat devices.

The 442-page class-action lawsuit alleges General Motors installed emissions "defeat devices" in the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze diesel cars which results in illegal nitrogen oxide emissions. Owners claim they paid about $2,000 more for the "clean diesel" cars compared to the cost of gasoline models, believing the cars wouldn't harm the environment.

The alleged defeat device keeps emissions levels within legal standards when the car is being tested in lab conditions. But the plaintiffs say once those cars are back on the roads in the hands of consumers, the nitrogen oxide levels go above legal limits.

According to the plaintiffs, one study conducted for the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure showed real-world testing indicated the General Motors Opel, a car very similar to the Cruze, emits nitrogen oxide levels higher than in lab tests and higher than European standards.

The plaintiffs also allege they have tested the Chevrolet Cruze by using a "Portable Emissions Measurement System” that revealed the Cruze was non-compliant with U.S. emissions standards during highway driving (especially speeds over 70 miles per hour), stop-and-go driving, temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit and temperatures over 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

The lawsuit alleges if GM is forced to alter the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze cars to make them compliant with U.S. emissions standards, the cars will no longer perform as they did when purchased and as advertised and the value will be diminished. In addition, the plaintiffs argue they will be forced to pay more for fuel.

General Motors argues there is nothing wrong with the emissions systems in the Cruze diesel cars and the vehicles comply with all regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board. In addition, the automaker argues the plaintiffs have not alleged any facts which show that GM had exclusive knowledge of the defeat device or actively concealed such a device.

However, the judge said the plaintiffs do have grounds to allege GM installed a defeat device on the Cruise and the only plausible purpose for a device is the give the appearance of low emissions.

The judge ruled that if GM were not attempting to deceive consumers regarding the level of emissions produced by the Cruze, the alleged “defeat device” would not exist, which is enough to allege active concealment.

Further, if a defeat device exists, GM had exclusive knowledge of the device which was clearly meant to be secret and the automaker cannot reasonably argue that owners could have discovered the device’s existence prior to purchasing the car.

The judge dismissed breach of contract claims without prejudice, a clear win for GM. But false advertising and fraud claims were not dismissed and the lawsuit will carry to the discovery phase.

The Chevy Cruze emissions lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court Eastern District Of Michigan - Jason Counts, Donald Klein, Oscar Zamora, Brandon J. Stone, Jason Silveus, John Miskelly, Thomas Hayduk, Joshua Hurst and Joshua Rodriguez, v. General Motors LLC.

The plaintiffs are represented by Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP.

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