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US Franchise Dealers Latest to Sue Volkswagen In New Purported Class Action

Car ManufacturerBy Susan J. Kohlmann

The family of Ed Napleton, owners of three car dealerships in Illinois and Florida, sued Volkswagen in Chicago federal court on behalf of themselves and other franchise dealers similarly situated in connection with the VW emissions scandal. According to the complaint, the Napleton family opened its first car dealership on the south side of Chicago in 1931, and now owns more than 50 dealerships in 30 different locations in five states. Napleton purchased his first VW dealership in September 2015. Only three days later, the EPA issued its Notice of Violation and announced that VW had admitted that it had used a defective device on 11 million cars worldwide. The complaint alleges that “VW has engaged in policies with respect to franchise dealers that are in direct conflict with federal law designed to protect car dealers from unfair practices by vehicle manufacturers, as well as various franchisee protection laws of several states, causing direct and measurable harm to Plaintiffs. In addition to the their (sic) claims on behalf of all Volkswagen franchise dealers nationwide, Plaintiffs, on behalf of the Volkswagen franchise dealers located in Florida and Illinois, seek damages and injunctive relief under applicable state franchise protection laws.”  The Napleton class action lawsuit, the first to be filed on behalf of franchise dealers according to Napleton’s counsel, is in addition to the more than 600 lawsuits currently pending before U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco. Judge Breyer has been asked to approve three different classes: a consumer class, a reseller class and a class of non-Volkswagen dealers.