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Truck Owners Sue Engine Makers Over EPA Settlement

October 1, 1999

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More than 100 trucking companies and owner-operators are suing six major diesel engine manufacturers over the emissions consent decree signed between the engine makers and the U.S. government.

The suit, filed in California September 24, is claiming unfair business practices, fraud and breach of warranty. The plaintiffs are not only seeking compensation for anticipated damages, but also ask that the court order the manufacturers not to pass the costs of EPA penalties on to customers and not enter into any more agreements that affect the plaintiffs without the engine owners' consent.
Named in the suit are Cummins, Mack, Detroit Diesel, Caterpillar, Navistar International and Volvo Truck. A year ago, these companies signed an agreement with the EPA, the U.S. Justice Department and the California Air Resources Board to settle a lawsuit alleging they used electronic engines to cheat on emissions tests. The engine makers agreed to pay a total of approximately $1 billion in penalties.
According to the lawyers representing the trucking companies, the agreement also required that affected engines be retrofitted to meet clean air standards. The engine owners want the engine companies to pay the costs that will be incurred with the retrofit, the costs of fuel for decreased economy, the costs of repairs for excessive wear and tear caused by the retrofit, loss of resale value, and loss of profits caused by downtime. They're also asking for punitive damages.
The suit alleges the engine makers engaged in unfair and unlawful business practices by selling products that violate the Clean Air Act and California regulations, intentionally misrepresenting to customers that the engines met those standards, and intentionally selling defective products. The companies committed fraud, it claims, by concealing the defects of the engines

The majority of the plaintiffs are small trucking companies and owner-operators based in California. They are represented by DeWitt, Algorri & Algorri of Pasadena, CA.

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