Cases

Fiat Chrysler Emissions Fraud Litigation

Allegations have been made that auto manufacturer Fiat Chrysler Automobiles installed emissions cheating software in thousands of 3.0-liter diesel vehicles sold since 2014. Investigations conducted by the EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) determined that the vehicles produced increased emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) on the road compared to levels shown under test conditions. Fiat Chrysler, however, failed to disclose the use of alleged emissions control devices in the vehicles, in violation of the federal Clean Air Act.

Motley Rice represents owners and lessees with potential claims. Co-founder Joe Rice serves on the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee for multidistrict litigation, In re Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep EcoDiesel Marketing, Sales Practice and Products Liability Litigation, filed in the Northern District of California. He also was one of the lead negotiators in the nearly $15 billion Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Emissions Fraud settlement for 2.0-liter Volkswagen and Audi vehicles, the largest auto-related consumer class action settlement in U.S. history, as well as the settlement for the 3.0-liter Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche vehicles.

Affected Diesel Vehicles

Roughly 104,000 “EcoDiesel” Fiat Chrysler vehicles are alleged to have emissions defeat software. They include:

  • 2014-2016 Jeep Grand Cherokees
  • 2014-2016 Dodge Ram 1500 Trucks

Fiat Chrysler Emissions Settlement

On Jan. 10, 2019, the Department of Justice, the EPA and the State of California announced a proposed settlement with Fiat Chrysler automobiles for alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act and California law. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California will consider the proposed settlement and grant final approval after review.

Claims by individual owners or lessees in the multidistrict litigation were consolidated and would be resolved through this proposed settlement.

The proposed settlement does not resolve any potential criminal liability.

Under the proposed settlement with the DOJ and the EPA, FCA will:

  • implement a recall program to repair more than 100,000 noncompliant diesel vehicles sold or leased in the U.S.
  • offer an extended warranty on repaired vehicles;
  • pay a civil penalty of $305 million to settle claims of cheating emission testing and failing to disclose unlawful defeat devices;
  • implement a program to mitigate excess pollution from these vehicles;

The recall and mitigation programs are estimated to cost FCA approximately $185 million.

In a proposed settlement with the state of California, FCA will pay an additional $19 million to mitigate excess emissions from more than 13,000 noncompliant vehicles in California. Additionally, in a proposed settlement with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, FCA will pay a civil penalty of $6 million to resolve allegations of illegally importing 1,700 noncompliant vehicles.

Under the terms of the proposed settlement, class members will be offered a cash payment and  a vehicle repair, which consists of a software update. The amount of the cash payment will vary depending on whether a class member is a current or former owner or lessee. Most owners who complete the repair will receive $3,075. Some owners who acquired their vehicles after January 12, 2017 (the date the EPA issued a Notice of Violation to Fiat Chrysler) may receive a little less. Former owners who owned one of the vehicles as of January 12, 2017 but no longer own it may also file claims and receive a payment of $990. However, class members who sell their vehicle after January 10, 2019 (the settlement announcement date) will not be eligible for any compensation. Current and former lessees of the vehicles may also file a claim and receive $990.

The proposed settlement is subject to Court approval. A preliminary approval hearing was held January 23, 2019 before Judge Edward Chen in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The Court will hold a final approval hearing on May 3. Current owners and lessees will have 18 months from the date the Court issues final approval of the class settlement and enters the Consent Decrees (the “Effective Date”) to submit a complete claim, and two years from the Effective Date to obtain the repair and receive compensation. Former owners and lessees will have 90 days from the Effective Date to submit a complete claim. For more information, visit https://ecodieselsettlement.com/. 

Fiat Chrysler Emissions Fraud Background

The EPA announced on Jan. 12, 2017, that Fiat Chrysler had been issued a notice alleging violations of the Clean Air Act. The allegations and surrounding investigations came after the EPA and CARB vowed to expand investigations of emissions produced by vehicles from several leading auto manufacturers in the wake of the Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” emissions scandal.

In a statement announcing allegations against Fiat Chrysler, CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols said that, “Once again, a major automaker made the business decision to skirt the rules and got caught. CARB and U.S. EPA made a commitment to enhanced testing as the Volkswagen case developed, and this is a result of that collaboration.”

Fiat Chrysler announced in May 2017 that it would attempt to modify the affected vehicles to meet emissions standards, and that the company was in talks with the Department of Justice with hopes of settling the investigation. Shortly after the automaker issued its proposal, however, the U.S. Government filed a lawsuit accusing Fiat Chrysler of illegal use of emissions software.  

Several additional lawsuits filed by owners and lessees were consolidated in May in the Northern District of California. Fiat Chrysler has denied the allegations and stated that it will defend itself against any claims that use of the software amounted to a “deliberate scheme.”

In addition to VW and Fiat Chrysler, other auto manufacturers currently accused of emissions fraud include VW’s luxury brand Audi.

Related News

Reuters (May 24, 2017) — U.S. government sues Fiat Chrysler over excess emissions

CNN (March 22, 2017) — French investigation into emissions cheating widens to include Fiat Chrysler

USA Today (Jan. 13, 2017) — How Fiat Chrysler’s diesel woes differ from VW’s

The Detroit News (Jan. 12, 2017) — EPA accuses Fiat Chrysler of emissions cheating