CLEVELAND, Ohio — A Cleveland lawyer has accused German automaker Volkswagen and its American distribution company of failing to correct manufacturing defects that have caused catastrophic engine failures in several models of its cars.
Volkswagen has known for years that its engines were susceptible to timing chain failure, but it refused to tell customers about the problem or issue a recall, Deborah Michelson claims in a lawsuit filed in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.
Michelson is seeking at least $25,000 in damages after the engine of her 2009 CC Sport, which she bought used from a third-party dealer in 2014, sustained catastrophic damage when the engine’s timing chain system failed, according to her lawsuit.
Michelson, of Cleveland Heights, also is asking to take her lawsuit to a jurors and ask them to order Volkswagen reimburse her for the cost of her repairs and punish the company through statutory and punitive damages for what she says are violations of state laws meant to protect consumers.
The company knowingly failed to address a manufacturing defect present in the timing chain system, in which the tension on the chain loosens and throws the entire system off, damaging several parts of the engine, Michelson claimed.
The same thing happened to Michelson’s car in December, less than two year after she bought it used. The car had about 90,000 on the odometer.
Mechanics cited the timing chain system malfunction and Michelson had to pay about $7,000 to entirely replace her engine with a refurbished one, her suit claims.
Michelson claims that Volkswagen “wrongfully and intentionally” transferred the cost of repairing the defect onto its customers “by fraudulently concealing the timing chain system defunct.”
Volkswagen continued to market its cars as safe and reliable, even as the company knew about issues with the timing chain system, Michelson claims.
The company’s actions violate the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act and the Ohio Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
Lawyers for Volkswagen have asked McDonnell to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the consumer laws do not apply to Michelson because she did not buy the CC Sport from Volkswagen.
“Plaintiff brings this complaint because she bought a used, five-year-old vehicle from a third party and is upset that Volkswagen refused to cover the cost of vehicle repairs well after the warranty,” Volkswagen’s response says.
The lawsuit is the latest claim centering around the failure of timing chain systems in Volkswagen cars.
A class-action lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in New Jersey alleges that Volkswagen knowingly concealed the defects to increase profit. That lawsuit also says that Volkswagen and Audi sent several technical service bulletins to car dealers describing timing chain tensioner problems as early as 2010.
Volkswagen also agreed to what is likely to be a multi-billion settlement with U.S. and California regulators who discovered the automaker rigged millions of cars with software to cheat on emissions tests and meet U.S. standards, USA Today reported.
Several VW employees were hit with criminal charges in the U.S., and some executives, including former VW CEO Martin Winterkorn, remain under investigation by German prosecutors. Winterkorn has denied wrongdoing.
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