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Maryland VW suit alleges ‘elaborate and successful scheme’

A class of Maryland Volkswagen owners filed suit against the automaker last week with allegations of violations of Maryland’s Consumer Protection Act, fraud, unjust enrichment and civil conspiracy.

The lawsuit is one of dozens being filed across the country — primarily in federal courts — on the heels of Volkswagen’s admission that its clean diesel vehicles contained defeat devices designed to fool emissions tests.

The affected vehicles are those manufactured between 2008 and 2015 with a “TDI Clean Diesel” engine,” according to the lawsuit filed by attorneys at Salsbury, Clements, Bekman, Marder & Adkins LLC in Baltimore, which calls the situation an “elaborate and successful scheme to deceive and defraud approximately 482,000 customers in the United States.”

The strong rhetoric doesn’t end there.

Volkswagen engineers failed to create a vehicle that combined power, fuel economy and reduced emissions, according to the lawsuit, and instead manufacturing vehicles that emitted as much as 40 times the pollution permitted by the Clean Air Act. The company’s solution was to install the defeat devices which could determine when an emissions test was being conducted and controlled emissions to pass.

“While Volkswagen continued to design and manufacture more and more ‘Clean Diesel’ cars, including 2016 models, it remained unaware that its deceptive scheme to cheat EPA emissions tests would soon be revealed to the world,” the lawsuit states, channeling the voice-over from a true-crime television show.

Researchers at West Virginia University’s Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions had caught onto the fact that Volkswagen’s emissions numbers varied greatly between testing conditions and road conditions, the EPA was informed and the rest is history.

The lawsuit alleges unfair or deceptive trade practices, fraud by deceit or misrepresentation, fraudulent concealment, unjust enrichment, breach of contract, breach of the implied warranty of merchantability, and civil conspiracy.

The case is Nicole M. Barnard v. Volkswagen AG et al., 1:15-cv-03051-RBD.