Attorney Stacey Slaughter led a Robins Kaplan team that resolved multidistrict litigation against Fiat Chrysler over “defeat devices” that masked vehicles’ true emissions levels. The litigation alleged that three model years of Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Ram 1500 trucks were advertised as being environmentally friendly diesels but were outfitted with devices that masked their actual emissions levels.
The case also alleged that Fiat installed engine software in approximately 100,000 trucks that allowed the trucks to emit nitrogen oxide at levels exceeding government emissions standards.
In addition to hosting multiple rounds of depositions in Minneapolis, the team successfully defended the depositions of class representatives at various locations across the country. In 2019, Judge Edward Chen of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California approved a settlement of the case.
If all class members participate, the settlement will result in approximately $307.5 million in compensation, plus extended warranty benefits worth an additional $239.5 million. Class members are also entitled to an emissions repair, as well as an extended warranty covering all the parts and systems affected by the emissions repair. Also, the defendants will pay approximately $300 million in civil penalties.
“What made this case unique was that, according to the class plaintiffs, the trucks were emitting 20 times the allowable amount of nitrogen oxide into the environment,” Slaughter said. The vehicles were not recalled, pending a decision on the suit, so people were continuing to drive them.
“As class lawyers, our goal was to fix it, if there was a fix available, but if there was no fix available, to appropriately compensate the plaintiffs.”
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