The Michigan Consumer Protection Act (MCPA), is a statutory cause of action for conduct constituting unfair, unconscionable, or deceptive trade practices. MCL 445.901, et seq.   Under the MCPA, a deceptive trade practice is defined to include “(c) Representing that goods or services have sponsorship, approval, characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits, or quantities that they do not have or that a person has sponsorship, approval, status, affiliation, or connection that he or she does not have.”  The MCPA remedies available to the deceived consumer include the recovery of “actual damages” sustained by the person or representative of the class of persons deceived.  MCL 445.911.

Investigations of Volkswagen have revealed that that the manufacturer installed a device that deliberately falsifies emissions tests.  When not activated, the diesel vehicles reportedly emit as much as 40 times more than the United States Clean Air Act allowed level of nitrogen oxides.  The VW models sold in the U.S. that have been found to be implicated include VW Jetta, Beetle and Golf from 2009 through 2015, the Passat from 2014-2015 as well as the Audi A3, model years 2009-2015.

Actual damages sustained by consumers include, but are not limited to, having over-paid for a diesel engine that is less efficient than represented.  Add to that, the anticipated reduced re-sale or trade-in value of the vehicle.  How quickly and in what manner VW responds to these developing consumer complaints will be VW’s biggest test.  VW has created a website allowing consumers to input the Vehicle Identification Number to determine whether a recall has been ordered for the subject vehicle.  The VW website was last updated on Monday, September 28, 2015.

Authored by L. Page Graves