How I handled the Volkswagen TDI scandal

By Lakota R. Denton | October 27, 2015

Like most Volkswagen TDI owners, I was proud to own a “clean diesel” with my 2010 Jetta Sportwagon. The recent news that VW defrauded me, and millions of consumers (including the U.S. EPA), changed my opinion quickly. As a committed biodiesel user, how did I respond? Like any lawyer would—sue, sell and move on.

How I sued

I called around to lawyers I knew in North Carolina to find out who was handling the class action suits popping up against VW. I ended up contacting the Edwards Kirby Law Firm in Raleigh. This is John Edwards’ firm and they handle numerous class action lawsuits against car manufacturers. They had already filed a class action suit against VW in federal court. I told them that I had owned a TDI Sportwagon but recently sold it, after finding out about the fraud. Even though I had already sold my TDI, at a reduced price due to the fraud, I was still able to become a plaintiff in the class. The theory is that although I am no longer an owner, I had already been defrauded by VW for the three years of ownership, and I had also sold the car after the news of the fraud, so I had sold it for less than I would have had there not been fraud.

The specifics of the class action suit are not ironed out at all. All we really know is that TDI owners are going to be entitled to some kind of compensation for a reduced-value vehicle, and also for fraud, which means having been lied to about their vehicle. This class action is different from most car manufacturer class actions, such as the class action against Toyota for unintended acceleration. The difference is that with Toyota, we had an accidental defect that caused the car to malfunction. With VW, we have a conscious choice to lie to consumers and government. This difference will mean that the class action settlement against VW will be a much larger amount than most other class action settlements against car manufacturers.

How I sold

 I contacted a VW mechanic and asked if he’d be interested in my Sportwagon even though there would be a recall of some kind and potentially lower fuel efficiency as a result. He said he would be interested. I sold the vehicle for much lower than if there had been no recall pending.

How I moved on 

Having given up on TDI, I needed to find a diesel vehicle that would work well with biodiesel. I also did not want to deal with the stress of a recall or having to do a major fix on a car ever again. I decided that a diesel Mercedes would be my best bet. But I did not want a 1980s model. As a lawyer, I drove a lot and absolutely need the vehicle to be dependable. I also needed the fuel system to work well with biodiesel. Finally, I did not want a new, fancy looking Mercedes—it’s just not me. I contacted the local Mercedes mechanic guru and asked him to keep his eyes out for a 1990s diesel Mercedes.

A few weeks later the mechanic called me with a 1999 E300 Mercedes diesel. He said he needed to fix it up a little bit. I told him that I would be running biodiesel in the car and to make any changes needed to the fuel system. He changed a few hoses to be more compatible with biodiesel. He said the fuel pump would be just fine. I told him that I wanted him to look at the fuel system every four to five months while I am running biodiesel just to make sure everything is working smoothly. I am now almost done with the first full tank of biodiesel and the car runs great. Having washed my hands of the VW fraudulent stink, I am much happier in an old Mercedes anyway.

Author: Lakota R. Denton 

Attorney, Lakota R. Denton, P.A. 


[email protected]



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