Diesel Emissions Claim News: $10 Million Fine Imposed

In recent environmental news, a significant development has emerged in the ongoing Dieselgate emissions scandal. Orion Diesel LLC and Diesel Ops LLC, two companies based in Oakland County, Michigan, USA, have been fined £7.96 million (approximately $10 million) by a US District Court in Michigan's Eastern District. The companies were charged with producing, selling, and installing aftermarket parts designed to manipulate emissions controls in diesel vehicles. This action aligns with the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) crackdown on illegal defeat devices. Opel (branded as Vauxhall in the UK), another car manufacturer involved in the Dieselgate scandal, has also faced consequences for selling diesel cars with emissions higher than reported to German transport regulators, resulting in a €64.8 million fine imposed by the Frankfurt public prosecutor’s office.

Nicholas Piccolo, the owner of both Orion Diesel and Diesel Ops, faces additional penalties. He was ordered to pay a civil penalty of approximately £362,694 ($455,925) for failing to comply with a Clean Air Act information request. Additionally, Piccolo is liable for approximately £795,513 ($1 million) for violating the Federal Debt Collection Procedures Act through fraudulent transfers and asset concealment.

Despite a 2018 order to cease production, sales, and installation of illegal defeat devices, Piccolo's companies continued selling delete kits and similar products for Dodge Cummins and Ford Powerstroke engines. The devices manipulate emissions by boosting mileage and performance, reverting to high emissions levels after regulatory testing. These emissions include dangerous pollutants like particulate matter, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, ozone, and nitrogen oxides (NOx).

The Dieselgate scandal initially involved Volkswagen Group using defeat devices in Audi and VW diesel vehicles in the US. Volvo is now also under investigation for allegations that certain diesel vehicles, including Skoda, contain "cheat devices" that enable them to cheat emissions tests. Volkswagen admitted to the deception and has faced substantial financial consequences, such as vehicle recalls, fines, and compensation payments for manipulating diesel emissions tests in the EU. Other carmakers implicated in similar violations include Mercedes-Benz, Renault, Nissan, BMW, and Fiat. Our Diesel Emissions Group Actions offer representation for emissions problems related to various car manufacturers, such as Fiat, Jaguar Land Rover, Mercedes, Nissan Renault, Porsche, and many others. The scandal has had global repercussions, with legal actions in Europe, the UK, and Australia.

In Germany, former Audi boss Rupert Stadler received a suspended sentence for fraud related to the scandal. Four Volkswagen managers and engineers are currently on trial in Braunschweig, Germany, for group and commercial fraud. The lawsuit by fund manager Deka Investment against Volkswagen and Porsche SE highlights investor claims for damages due to withheld information about the emissions scandal. Volkswagen has paid over 32 billion euros in fines and damages, mainly in the United States.

In the UK, Mercedes-Benz faces over 300,000 claims at London’s High Court from UK vehicle owners of diesel vehicles allegedly equipped with defeat devices. While Mercedes-Benz denies these allegations, claimants argue that the company's vehicles produced higher NOx emissions than permitted. The lawsuit draws comparisons to Volkswagen's case, where Volkswagen and several leading vehicle manufacturers agreed to pay £193 million to compensate motorists affected by the emissions scandal, without admitting liability. This case is similar to the Volkswagen case, which resulted in compensation for UK vehicle owners affected by the emissions scandal. The company made its first appearance in the High Court in relation to the case back in February, marking an important milestone in the legal proceedings, and things are now beginning to speed up. The High Court has recently requested Schedule of Claimant Information forms in relation to the Mercedes-Benz group claim, indicating that the case is progressing further.

This ongoing saga highlights the environmental and legal challenges facing the automotive industry and underscores the importance of regulatory compliance and corporate accountability in environmental matters.