DIESELGATE: Volkswagen Sued by Their Own Dealers

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The diesel emissions scandal is a huge thorn in Volkswagen’s side. Their customers are angry, government regulators are angry, and now their own dealers are angry enough to sue.

Illinois-based Napleton Automotive Group decided they’ve had enough and filed suit on Wednesday despite efforts from a VW dealer council. The council is trying to convince dealers not to sue, but this dealership is going out on its own.

They are accusing VW of defrauding retailers and, according to Automotive News, going so far as to accuse VW of “criminal racketeering enterprise.”

Napleton is represented by Seattle law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, which is already familiar with the VW diesel situation. The group represents a group of diesel owners who is also suing Volkswagen.

As for Napleton, they’re not new to the lawsuit game either. Four months ago, two of their dealerships sued FCA for a separate issue. They claim FCA encouraged dealers to falsify sales data. FCA, of course, says the suit is baseless and is seeking to have the case dismissed.

Go back even further to 2014 and Napleton was at it again. They filed a suit against Jaguar Land Rover when the company exercised their right of first refusal to block sales of five long Island dealerships to Napleton.

This time around, the situation is different. Napleton seems quick to head to court when they perceive a slight, but there’s really no question that VW did pull the wool over everyone’s eyes.

The company admitted that software on 11 million vehicles around the world was rigged to pass emissions tests. They’ve admitted their guilt in the situation, it’s now only a matter of deciding what the courts think about the matter.

Napleton got a particularly raw deal when the emissions news broke. They had acquired a VW dealership in Urbana, Illinois just three days earlier.

Although Napleton is the first dealer to officially go after VW, there’s a good chance they won’t be the last. Dealers are frustrated with a lack of information from VW about when and how affected cars will be repaired.

At the National Automobile Dealers Association convention last weekend, Volkswagen’s dealer council formed a committee to negotiate dealer settlements, but there’s no guarantee all dealers will buy into their proposals.

Napleton’s lawsuit could be the first of many if VW doesn’t find a way to appease dealer concerns and offer a concrete solution to all affected vehicles.

Nicole Wakelin

Nicole Wakelin