The Federal Government is Suing a Car Part Manufacturer Over Emission “Defeat Devices”
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed a lawsuit against EZ Lynk, a car part manufacturer accused of violating the Clean Air Act since at least 2016. This allegation stems from EZ Lynk’s sale of an emission defeat device for drivers of Ford, GMC, Chrysler, and other vehicles, particularly trucks.
According to the lawsuit, EZ Lynk’s aftermarket system plugs into vehicle computers.
When plugged into a vehicle’s computer, the EZ Lynk system effectively allows drivers to install software that can “delete” emissions controls at the push of a button. These emissions controls are a mandatory part of vehicle manufacturing in the U.S. under the Clean Air Act. The complaint further alleges that the auto part company even maintains an online forum promoting “drivers’ experiences disabling emissions controls using the EZ Lynk System”. The lawsuit further alleges that “EZ Lynk’s illegal activity is compounded by its refusal to provide the Government basic information about the manufacture, sale, and use of the EZ Lynk System, also in violation of the Act.”
The Clean Air Act was designed to protect human health from the risks posed by polluting emissions.
Under the Clean Air Act, vehicles must pass certain standards regarding their emissions. Vehicle emissions from cars and trucks typically include pollutants including nitrogen oxide, non-methane organic gases, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, and formaldehyde. At low levels, these pollutants are relatively harmless; this is why vehicle manufacturers and drivers alike are required to have their emission levels checked and monitored before their registration can be renewed. When the required emissions controls are disabled, it exposes drivers and others in the environment to a higher risk of heart and lung disease, heart attacks, aggravated asthma, and other illnesses.
Defeat devices are in direct violation of federal pollution laws.
Defeat devices are typically only allowed for certain approved racing and competitive purposes. When drivers of trucks and passenger vehicles use defeat devices to effectively “delete” a vehicle’s emission control system, the emissions from their vehicle are in direct violation of federal law. Drivers, vehicle designers, and car part manufacturers alike are aware of this fact; in fact, on the EZ Lynk Forum, some users openly encouraged others to keep the control deletion a secret, saying that, “If everyone keeps their mouth shut about deleting sooner or later the EPA will calm down.” This proven awareness could make it difficult for EZ Lynk to argue that they weren’t aware of how their software was being used, especially since there are further records of EZ Lynk staff “loving” these and similar posts on their forum.
This is not the first emissions scandal of its kind, but is thought to affect a particularly wide array of vehicles. The DOJ is seeking injunctive relief to prevent EZ Lynk from continuing to distribute the defeat device, as well as civil penalties for violating the Clean Air Act.