Volkswagen Class Action Lawsuit Alleges Brake Safety Systems Don’t Work

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Volkswagen has been hit with a class action lawsuit for allegedly misrepresenting the brake safety systems in nearly 100,000 of its 2016 and 2017 models, including the Jetta, Passat, and several Golf vehicles.

Plaintiff Michael D’Amore brought the class action complaint against Volkswagen in state court back in April, but the case was recently transferred to federal court. D’Amore is challenging Volkswagen’s alleged deceptive representations and omission regarding the brake safety systems of its 2016 and 2017 vehicles sold in California.

According to the Volkswagen Brake Safety System class action lawsuit, D’Amore purchased a 2017 Passat specifically because it contained safety features that provided for autonomous braking at speeds over 25 miles per hour. In fact, upon purchasing his 2017 Passat, D’ Amore was given and read the owner’s manual for his new vehicle which contained a representation that the 2017 Passat has high-speed autonomous braking system as a standard feature. But, while driving his 2017 Passat in excess of 25 mph, D’Amore contends he did not experience any warning – visual or auditory – nor did his vehicle engage in any autonomous braking.

Volkswagen has represented itself as one of the safest automobile brands manufacturing and selling vehicles in America. “It brakes when you don’t,” was a pledge made in commercials to American consumers when Volkswagen tried to sell its 2016 models. Volkswagen represented that its 2016 and 2017 models contained two technology systems: Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking (the “Systems”) and campaigned to capitalize on safety concerns of consumers, including those with children, the lawsuit indicates.

“Despite these representations, at no point in 2016 or 2017 did these brake safety systems properly work at speeds over 18 miles per hour. Not only did Volkswagen’s misrepresentation of the brake safety systems diminish the value of its 2016 and 2017 vehicles, Volkswagen endangered the owners and drivers who relied on the safety technology promised, warranted and sold in its 2016 and 2017 vehicles.”

D’Amore claims he, and other consumers, were duped by Volkswagen, contending that the vehicles never had such safety technology and that Volkswagen knew it. Volkswagen’s alleged knowledge of this defect, is based, in part, on the results of published unbiased testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Based on IIHS testing, not one of the tested Volkswagen cars had any high-speed auto-brake technology that would reduce speed in a meaningful way, when the vehicle was traveling over 25 miles per hour. For instance, as reported by the IIHS, the 2016 and 2017 Passat speed was reduced by 0 miles per hour when the Passat was traveling at 25 miles per hour.

The Volkswagen Brake Safety class action lawsuit goes on to state that he, and other Volkswagen car owners, would not have purchased the vehicles, or would have paid substantially less had they known the safety systems did not properly operate. D’Amore seeks to represent a Class of all current and former owners of the following Volkswagen vehicles who reside in the State of California and/or who purchased or leased the vehicles listed below in California:

  • 2016 Golf, GolfGTI, GolfR, e-Golf, GolfSportWagen
  • 2016 CC
  • 2016 Jetta
  • 2016 Passat
  • 2017 Golf, GolfGTI, GolfR, e-Golf, Golf Alltrack, GolfSportWagen
  • 2017 CC
  • 2017 Jetta
  • 2017 Passat

D’Amore is represented by Ari E. Moss of Moss Bollinger LLP and Mary Niefert and Anoiel Khorshid of Niefert Korshid APLC.

The Volkswagen Brake Safety System Class Action Lawsuit is D’Amore et al. v. Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., Case No. 18-cv-5682, in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

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