Roy Altman of Podhurst Orseck
Roy Altman of Podhurst Orseck (handout)

Nationwide owners and lessees of the Volkswagen CC model cars filed a class action lawsuit claiming a known design defect in the alignment has for years caused uneven wear and degradation of tires, known as tire cupping.

The suit filed Thursday in the Southern District of Florida alleges that since 2010 at least 50,000 of the luxury midsize sedans have been manufactured and sold with the defect, requiring drivers to replace the tires prematurely at their own expense.

Roy Altman, a partner at Podhurst Orseck in Miami representing the nationwide class, said many owners and lessees of the cars often have been forced to pay thousands of dollars over a period of years to get replacement tires that they otherwise would not have.

The 77-page complaint asks for compensatory and punitive damages, a return of the purchase or lease price of the cars, a disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, an enjoinment from “further deceptive distribution” and other remedies in a complaint that offers up plaintiffs who each say they lost money on their vehicles.

None of the plaintiffs named in the complaint, hailing from at least eight states including Florida, allege they were injured because of the alleged design defect, described as a “common, uniform defect” of “faulty suspensions, shocks and struts” Still, the suit alleges “tire cupping” is a “serious safety hazard,” regardless.

“The alignment defect, which is unrepairable, is not simply an economic or aesthetic concern,” the complaint states. “It is also a serious safety hazard. A 2009 study performed by the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration … showed that tire-related crashes were far more likely when the tire’s tread is worn down or degraded, which is precisely the kind of damage the alignment defect presents.”

The lawsuit assigned to U.S. District Judge Robert Scola in Miami also alleges Volkswagen knew of the alleged defect for years but actively concealed it.

“The defendants concealed the defect from the public while continuing to advertise its products as safe and reliable, showing a blatant disregard for public welfare and safety,” the complaint says. “Moreover, the defendants violated their affirmative duty, imposed under the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act (the “TREAD Act”), to promptly advise customers about known defects.”

The complaint in Lila Wilson v. Volkswagen, alleges 18 counts against defendants Volkswagen Group of America Inc. and Volkswagen AG. They include the nationwide federal claim of violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and common law and state law claims including fraudulent concealment, breach of implied warranty and unjust enrichment.

Pietro Zollino, a spokesman for Volkswagen in the U.S., did not return a call seeking comment.

A spokeswoman for Podhurst Orseck on Thursday predicted the lawsuit will be the “next big carmaker defect class action.”

Altman said, “Volkswagen has been in the news for having defrauded costumers and the federal government, and unfortunately we’ve uncovered at least 50,000 of its vehicles of this different model which have been purchased by people who were led to believe the car was one thing when it was another.”

“That raises concerns of endemic problems at Volkswagen,” he said.

He added a similar lawsuit would be filed Friday in federal court in New Jersey to “protect our clients’ legal rights.”