Mark Algorri, one of the California attorneys representing about 500 truck owners, ranging from owner-operators to medium-sized fleets, expects to file suit in about two weeks. "Apparently there was great consternation in the trucking business that they had not been asked to participate" in the negotiations leading to the consent decree, he says.
Late last year, six engine makers signed an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice to settle allegations that engine makers illegally manipulated truck engine controls in order to meet federal clean air regulations. Now some truck owners are saying they're the ones that will have to pay the price.
"The deal was struck without the participation of the most important parties, the truck consumers," Algorri says. "Their voice was not heard, and this deal will be onerous on them. It's our understanding that we're going to have vehicles with impaired resale value. They're going to run hotter, with less fuel efficiency, and I'm sure there will be other damages. [Truckers] will be shouldering the entire cost of this deal through passed-on costs."
Although 1999 engines appear to have suffered no discernable loss in fuel efficiency, there are concerns about the amount of soot going into the oil.
The lawyers plan to sue Caterpillar, Cummins, Detroit Diesel, Mack, Navistar International and Volvo on the grounds that the companies misrepresented to their customers that the engines met federal emissions requirements. They hope to gain compensation for the price truckers paid for what they are calling "defective" vehicles, as well as foreseeable losses truckers might have in areas such as fuel efficiency.
The suit has not been certified as class action.