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FCA, Cummins in NOx lawsuit

by Bill Cawthon on

Four Ram pickup owners have charged FCA and Cummins with fraud and racketeering, claiming that the diesel Ram 2500 and 3500 violated emissions rules.

According to the suit, the catalytic converter used to address oxides of nitrogen doesn’t work when the trucks are driven for long distances or up hills.

Cummins diesel engine

Their lawyers have asked the court to certify their lawsuit as a class action, on behalf of all U.S. owners of diesel 2007–2012 Ram 2500 or 3500 pickups, sold by Dodge and Ram.

Cummins spokesman Joe Mills responded quickly:

This lawsuit has no merit and contains false and exaggerated claims. Cummins will combat these claims vigorously. Cummins is deeply disappointed in this effort to tarnish our image and standing as a company. …

Cummins has robust certification and compliance processes, adhering to all emissions regulations worldwide and we prohibit the use of defeat devices in all of our products.  We are transparent with all governing bodies in these processes, from disclosure of the design and operation of the emission control system, to test processes and results, and later to any necessary reporting and corrective action processes if required.

Cummins works collaboratively and proactively with emission regulators globally to ensure emission standards are clear, appropriately stringent, and enforceable, in an effort to ensure our products deliver on our commitments to our customers and the environment in real world use every day.

FCA was much less forceful, writing that they had gotten the complaint, are reviewing it, and do “not believe that the claims brought against it are meritorious. FCA US will contest this lawsuit vigorously.”

The complaint filed in the U.S. Federal Court by James Bledsoe et al., as case number 2:16-cv-14024, is nearly 700 pages long, but most of that daunting volume is the including of press releases, newspaper articles, and even Cummins sustainability reports for 2007, 2009, and 2010. They even pad it with the Wikipedia six-sigma page.

It alleges that the Dodge Ram 2500 emitted 702 mg/mile of NOx (nitrides of oxygen) in stop and go traffic, when the legal limit is 200 mg/mile. In highway conditions, when the California limit is 400 mg/mile, the Ram 2500 showed an average of 756 mg.

The complaint also claims that the catalytic converter burns out relatively quickly because the engine overpollutes.

The case appears to be going before Terrence G. Berg, district court judge for the Eastern District of Michigan, a 57-year-old Detroit native who was appointed by President Obama in 2012.  Among Mr. Berg’s past endeavors was being Chief of the High Tech Crime Unit for the Michigan attorney general’s office from 1999 to 2003, and training prosecutors in several countries.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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