United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division
ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR CLARIFICATION
L. LUDINGTON United States District Judge
June 7, 2016, nine plaintiffs filed a 442-page complaint
alleging deceptive advertising, breach of contract, and
fraudulent concealment claims under the laws of thirty states
against Defendant General Motors (“GM”). ECF No.
1. Fundamentally, Plaintiffs allege that GM installed a
“defeat device” in the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze
Diesel which results in significantly higher emissions when
the vehicle is in use compared to when it is being tested in
laboratory conditions. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss
several months later which made multiple arguments, including
that the claims were preempted because they depended on proof
of noncompliance with EPA regulations governing emissions and
“defeat devices.” On February 14, 2017, the Court
issued an opinion and order which granted in part
Defendant's motion to dismiss, but rejected the GM's
argument that Plaintiffs' claims were preempted. ECF No.
21. On February 28, 2017, Defendant filed a motion seeking
clarification, where they raised a new argument: that
Plaintiffs' claims are preempted by EPA regulations to
the extent they depend upon proving that the Cruze contains a
“defeat device” as that term is defined by the
EPA. ECF No. 22. For the reasons that follow, GM's motion
will be denied.
allegations in Plaintiffs' complaint were summarized in
the Court's February 14, 2017, opinion and order. That
summary is adopted in full. For clarity, the most relevant
portions will be repeated here.
The complaint alleges that each Plaintiff is similarly
situated. All bought a Chevrolet Cruze which was allegedly
equipped with a “defeat device” that resulted in
significantly increased emissions when tested during normal
driving as compared to when tested in laboratory settings.
Plaintiffs further allege that they purchased the vehicle on
the “reasonable, but mistaken, belief that [the]
vehicle was a ‘clean diesel' as compared to
gasoline vehicles, complied with United States emissions
standards, and would retain all of its operating
characteristics throughout its useful life, including high
fuel economy.” See Compl. at ¶¶ 20,
23, 26, 27, 30, 33, 36, 39, 42. Further, Plaintiffs allege
that they “selected and ultimately purchased [their]
vehicles[s], in part, because of the Clean Diesel system, as
represented through the advertisements and representations
made by GM.” Id. Finally, Plaintiffs allege
that if GM had disclosed the true details of the clean diesel
system design or indicated that the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze
actually “emitted pollutants at a much higher level
than gasoline vehicles do, ” they “would not have
purchased the vehicle, or would have paid less for it.”
. . .
All parties agree that GM received a certification of
compliance with the relevant regulations from the EPA prior
to releasing the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel. However,
Plaintiffs allege that, despite that certification and
GM's “clean diesel” advertising campaign, the
2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel was equipped with a “defeat
device” which triggered the Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel
functions when the vehicle was being tested, but deactivated
the system when the vehicle was actually in use. Id.
At ¶¶ 73-75.
Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that multiple reports and
tests indicate that GM vehicles equipped with “clean
diesel” systems “emit far more pollution on the
road than in lab tests.” Id. at ¶ 73.
Feb. 14, 2017, Op. & Order at 2, 4, ECF No. 21.
motion seeks clarification of the opinion and order granting
in part its motion to dismiss. Pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 60(a), “[t]he court may correct a
clerical mistake or a mistake arising from oversight or
omission whenever one is found in a judgment, order, or other
part of the record.” In response to motions for
clarification, courts typically discuss the scope and
application of the order being clarified. GM asserts that
there is ambiguity regarding how portions of the February 14,
2017, order interact. To the extent there are material
ambiguities in the February 14, 2017, opinion and order, they
will be addressed below.
February 14, 2017, Opinion and Order, the Court concluded
that “to the extent Plaintiffs are suing GM for
manufacturing a vehicle that emits ‘more than a certain
amount of [NOx or particular emissions]' in violation of
EPA regulations or that is not equipped with a properly
functioning and federally required ‘emission-control
technology, ' their claims are preempted by the
EPA.” Feb. 14, 2017, Op. & Order at 23. The Court
went on to explain that “Plaintiffs' claims do not
directly depend on proof of noncompliance with federal
emissions standards.”Id. at 25. In response
to GM's argument that allowing Plaintiffs' to bring
suit would create “a ‘chaotic patchwork of state
standards, '” the Court explained that
“Plaintiffs are not attempting to tighten emissions
regulations or introduce separate state emissions regulation.
. . . Rather, Plaintiffs are attempting to hold GM
responsible for what Plaintiffs allege are false
representations about certain technology in the Cruze.”
Id. at 26 (quoting In re Caterpillar, Inc., C13
& C15 Engine Prod. Liab. Litig., No. 1:14-CV-3722
JBS-JS, 2015 WL 4591236 (D.N.J. July 29, 2015)). The Court
further explained: “An ...