Volkswagen, the world’s largest automaker, fitted as many as 11 million vehicles worldwide with software designed to cheat nitrogen oxide emissions tests. Consequently, it will need to recall nearly 500,000 cars in the U.S., and about 8.5 million in Europe. VW also admits understating carbon dioxide emissions and fuel usage for about 800,000 vehicles. The company’s scheme was first discovered by a West Virginia laboratory investigating emission levels. The EPA later found that millions of VW cars have devices in their engines that detect when they are being tested and temporarily adjust performance to improve and falsify results. Once on the road, these cars pump out as much as 40 times the legal level of nitrogen oxides. Additionally, reports allege that VW knew about these falsified results long before it was discovered, but still continued to actively claim false “low emission” standards via a massive marketing campaign aimed at U.S. consumers. VW’s lie to its customers destroyed the value of their vehicles, as many of these people paid a premium for the promise of greater fuel efficiency and lower emissions.
While much of this deception is focused on ripping off consumers, the selling of defective products can sometimes lead to serious injury. Right now, the only line of defense consumers have against corporate scams is the civil justice system. Within that system, class action lawsuits have proved to be the essential, and sometimes only, tool allowing citizens to hold corporations accountable. With class action lawsuits, the playing field is leveled when many consumers with smaller claims can band together and seek justice against corporate scams.
Unfortunately, a bill in the House of Representatives seeks to take away this fundamental American privilege, diminishing the rights of consumers while empowering corporations to carry on with dishonest practices. The recently proposed “Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act” (H.R. 1927) would eliminate most consumer class actions. If this bill passes, it would take away citizens’ rights to form a class and take on Goliath corporations like VW who instead, would be immunized while their consumers are left holding the bag.
It is the right of every American to be treated fairly and seek justice against those who wrong them. Such attempts at Corporate Immunity as H.R. 1927 are un-American at their heart and should be opposed, so that the old saying, “cheaters never win” proves still to be true. Please call your U.S. Congressional Representative and let them know that you oppose the “Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act” (H.R. 1927).