Hagens Berman files class-action fuel economy and emissions lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler and Cummins over SCR defect in RAM 2500 and 3500 diesels
Class-action law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro has filed a new class-action lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler (FCA) and Cummins charging that the automaker knowingly sold more than 135,000 RAM 2500 and 3500 trucks over the past four model years equipped with a Cummins diesel engine with a defect in the selective catalytic converter (SCR) system used for NOx control. The defect leads to lower fuel economy, non EPA-compliant emissions levels, and costly and frequent vehicle repairs, the complaint charges.
According to the lawsuit, RAM owners report that efforts to fix the faulty emissions system significantly affect engine performance and mileage, with miles per gallon dropping as much as 25%. When the SCR system breaks down, the filter gets clogged, requiring more fuel to be injected to burn it off, according to the complaint. This reduces the truck's fuel economy, according to the complaint.
Additionally, when FCA dealers attempt to fix the SCR system defect, they often simply “flash” the computer to prompt the truck to burn more fuel to clean the filter. When the computer in an affected Dodge RAM 2500 or 3500 is flashed, it causes the truck’s MPG to decline significantly, the lawsuit says.
The affected vehicles are the 2013-2017 RAM 2500 with Cummins diesel (2WD, 4WD) and 2013-2017 RAM 3500 with Cummins diesel (2WD, 4WD).
The lawsuit, filed 3 July 2017, in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, seeks damages and equitable relief for what it calls FCA’s and Cummins’ misconduct related to the design, manufacture, marketing, sale and lease of affected Dodge trucks with unlawfully high emissions.
The complaint hits both defendants with charges of fraudulent concealment, breach of warranty, violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), and violations of several state consumer protection laws.
The lawsuit also charges that in addition to manufacturing and marketing vehicles with an emissions system that they knew would not work in the long term, FCA and Cummins also failed to fix another discrete issue related to the “washcoat,” or sealant applied to the SCR, which also contributed to illegally high emissions.
FCA and Cummins allegedly knew about the washcoat defect for years—at least as early as 2014—but failed to take action to mitigate the drop in the trucks’ performance or prevent the illegally high levels of pollution emitted by affected RAM trucks. FCA and Cummins were grappling over the issues of cost for the required recall, among other issues, according to the complaint.
Despite knowing that the vehicles failed to meet EPA requirements, the law firm charged, both defendants continued to advertise and represent that the trucks were EPA-compliant, even claiming that the Cummins engine was “the lowest emitting diesel engine ever produced.”
The complaint cites the experiences of named plaintiffs from Michigan, Alabama, Florida and Pennsylvania who had their vehicles flashed by dealership mechanics. One of the suit’s named plaintiffs, Forrest Poulson, had his truck flashed three times. On one occasion, he asked his dealership mechanic why they were doing it. The mechanic replied, “I will deny this later, but I can tell you that the PCM updates are diverting fuel into the exhaust system to make it burn hotter so that it reduces the amount of emissions leaving the tailpipe.” The mechanic also told him that upwards of 25% of the fuel is being diverted through the exhaust system to heat up the emissions, according to the filed complaint.
The lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler is the latest in a series of automotive and emissions cases brought by Hagens Berman’s automotive legal team, which has tackled GM, Mercedes-Benz and VW as well. Hagens Berman also previously filed emissions suits against Fiat Chrysler regarding its 2007-2012 Dodge RAM 2500 and 3500, and its 2014-2016 Dodge RAM 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel, which led to a formal investigation by the EPA.
Hagens Berman is reaching out to owners or lessees of a 2013-2017 Dodge RAM 2500 or 3500 with a 6.7-L Cummins diesel engine to see if they might be entitled to compensation.