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US dealership owner sues Volkswagen

(London Post)      The owner of VW dealerships in the US has filed a lawsuit against the German carmaker over its massive emissions-cheating scandal. Experts say the move might lead to a devastating class-action suit. Ed Napleton, owner of three VW dealerships in the US, on Wednesday sued Europe’s largest auto maker over its massive diesel emissions scam.

The suit was filed in federal court in Illinois and was the first brought by a Volkswagen franchise dealer over the German carmaker’s admitted use of software that “allowed nearly 600,000 vehicles in the US to emit up to 40 times legally allowable pollution,” a lawyer for the owner of the dealerships said.

VW is already facing lawsuits from the US Justice Department, some US states and complaints filed on behalf of hundreds of VW car owners in the United States.

A broader protest by US dealership owners would be a disaster for the auto maker’s crisis management. Experts said many dealership owners felt they’d been left to their own devices in dealing with the fallout of the scandal that broke last year.

Lawyer Steve Berman maintained VW had withheld important information about the Dieselgate fiasco, thus leaving dealership owners in the lurch in the US after the scandal unfolded.

In the beginning, dealerships appeared to remain loyal to Volkswagen, but with dwindling sales figures and a steep drop in brand value the situation is changing fast.

Plaintiff Ed Napleton criticized Volkswagen for taking too long to debate various crisis plans, without doing enough to win back lost trust among clients.

Experts said it was yet unclear how many other dealership owners might join the class action bout. VW currently has 650 dealerships across the US.

hg/tko (Reuters, dpa)

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