The Law Firms of Arent Fox LLP and Colson Hicks Eidson Filed Lawsuits on Behalf of Braman Audi Dealerships against Volkswagen and Audi for Deceptive and Unlawful Business Practices

September 6, 2017 / 6:17 am

Allegations include Fraudulent Concealment, Civil RICO, Violations of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, and Seeks Injunctive Relief against Audi

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (Sept. 6, 2017) — The law firms of Arent Fox LLP and Colson Hicks Eidson filed lawsuits yesterday in West Palm Beach federal court on behalf of two Braman Audi dealerships – Braman Audi of West Palm Beach, Florida, and Prestige Audi in Lakewood, Colorado – against Defendants Volkswagen AG and other VW-affiliated companies, including Audi of America, Inc., Audi AG, and Volkswagen Credit, Inc.

According to the first lawsuit, the certain VW defendants engineered a criminal conspiracy for over a decade to defraud its dealers, such as Braman, the American consumer, and state and federal regulators. The fraud involved selling Audi-brand “clean diesel” turbo-charged direct ignition vehicles (TDI) with a “defeat device” software engineered by the defendants to deceive emissions testers and regulators into believing that the TDI vehicles were actually complying with clean air regulatory limits, when, in fact, they were polluting the atmosphere at a rate far greater than the legal level of emissions.

In January 2017, the defendants agreed to plead guilty, as a result of the TDI defeat device criminal scheme, to conspiracy to defraud the United States; wire fraud; violating the Clean Air Act; obstruction of justice; and importing goods into the stream of U.S. commerce by false statement.

This complaint alleges that once word of the defendant’s criminal wrongdoing became public, Braman, an authorized franchised Audi dealer, suffered damages in various ways, including no longer being able to sell its stock of TDI vehicles, selling fewer Audi vehicles overall than it otherwise would have, reputational damage and damage to Braman’s overall franchise value, and was left with unsalable inventory and dissatisfied customers.

The complaint further asserts that Braman relied on representations made by the defendants that the subject vehicles complied with all U.S. laws, including representations to government regulators that resulted in certifications allowing the vehicles to be sold in the U.S.

Additionally, the complaint alleges that while the TDI criminal conspiracy was ongoing, the defendants falsely marketed the subject vehicles as being environmentally friendly through public statements and advertisements and continued to sell the TDI vehicles to Braman and the consuming public at a premium.

During that same period, the defendants made false representations to its Audi dealers, including Braman, to invest heavily in the Audi brand. As a result, Braman and other Audi dealers invested heavily in Audi during this period, spending tens of millions of dollars in facility renovations and other upgrades to meet projected demand.

Allegations include breach of contract, violations of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, Fraudulent Concealment, violations of Civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

The second lawsuit, which adds plaintiff Terry Rhodes, in her official capacity as the Executive Director of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles of the State of Florida, seeks injunctive relief against Audi for Audi’s unlawful business practices.

The second complaint alleges that Audi unlawfully enhanced its control over dealer operations by unilaterally changing its contractual relationship with the dealers by imposing arbitrary business practices that reduced dealer trading margin.

According to the second lawsuit, Audi reduced the trading margin and replaced it with so-called “bonus”-based programs where the dealer must earn lower new car wholesale pricing by meeting performance targets and other conditions arbitrarily set by Audi. As the complaint states, “Audi uses this unlawful leverage to serve ends that, through other direct means, would be immediately found illegal under the Florida Dealer Act. Audi is attempting to circumvent the law under the guise of “incentivizing” supposedly uniform franchise behavior.” Allegations against Audi include breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and violation of the Florida Dealer Act.

“Audi’s business practices are unfair to dealers and are part of an intentional strategy to put more coercive power in the hands of the vehicle manufacturer to the detriment of the dealer body,” said Russell P. McRory, a partner at Arent Fox LLP and co-lead counsel for the Plaintiffs along with Bob Martínez, partner at Colson Hicks Eidson. Added Mr. Martínez: “We hope these lawsuits bring an end to Audi’s unlawful behavior, and send a message to other manufacturers/distributors that they have an obligation to their dealers to act fairly and in good faith.”

****Complaints and interviews available upon request ****

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MIAMI (June 13, 2024) – Colson Hicks Eidson has been recognized as one of the top three trial law firms in Florida in the “Litigation: Mainly Plaintiffs” category by the respected Chambers and Partners USA Legal Guide for the fourth year in a row. In addition, five of the Miami-based firm’s attorneys were also ranked individually.

“These rankings highlight the commitment and hard work of our attorneys, showcasing our firm’s capability to manage diverse cases for our clients,” said Dean Colson. “As the South Florida business landscape evolves, we remain committed to serving new clients while upholding the same standard of excellence that has defined our firm for 55 years.”

Stephanie Casey, Julie Braman Kane, Curtis Miner, Roberto Martínez, and Mike Eidson were all ranked individually for their work in the “Litigation: Mainly Plaintiffs” category. Miner received the top ranking (Band 1) and Eidson was named “Senior Statesperson” in “Litigation: Mainly Plaintiffs.” Martínez was named “Senior Statesperson” in two categories: “Litigation: Mainly Plaintiffs” and “White Collar Crime and Government Investigations.”

The rankings are a result of the firm’s exceptional track record of securing multimillion-dollar judgments and settlements for its clients in areas that include commercial litigation, medical malpractice, products liability, class actions, multidistrict litigation, and aviation and automobile accidents.

To schedule a consultation, do not hesitate to contact an attorney at our law office. We have experience in a wide variety of cases for clients located throughout the nation and around the globe.

About Colson Hicks Eidson

Colson Hicks Eidson is a renowned law firm based in Miami, Florida, that is recognized as one of the top trial firms in the United States. Built on a foundation of over 50 years of dedication forging strong client relationships, Colson Hicks Eidson handles local, national, and international litigation, with cases spanning from Miami, Florida, and throughout the United States, to matters in the Caribbean, Central America, South America, and Europe. Learn more at: www.colson.com.

Colson Hicks Eidson lawyers Thomas Kroeger and Zachary Lipshultz secured a $3 million damages award for a family of four who suffered significant trauma when a defective lithium-ion battery-powered scooter exploded and burned down their townhome. The family lost all of their possessions and endured significant emotional distress after being exposed to the fire and smoke.

On June 21, 2021, the electric scooter sold by Miami-based Defendant Hypertoyz exploded in the family’s foyer, quickly engulfing their home in fire. Everyone managed to escape amid the smoke and fire, but the family’s townhome was gutted in the blaze, destroying their possessions and forcing them to relocate.

A Federal District Court for the Southern District of Florida recently awarded all four family members compensatory damages totaling $3 million.

Colson Hicks Eidson, P.A. and co-counsel BartlettChen LLC filed a complaint on behalf of a three-generation family who experienced a harrowing near-death incident on a United Airlines flight. The event occurred due to a miscommunication between the Captain and First Officer, resulting in the plane suddenly losing altitude and plunging toward the Pacific Ocean, coming within seconds of crashing and subjecting the passengers to extreme G-forces and terror.

The incident took place on Dec. 18, 2022 when three generations of the family boarded United Airlines Flight 1722 from Maui, Hawaii to San Francisco, California after a long-planned family vacation.

Shortly after takeoff during heavy rain, the Captain asked the First Officer to reset the wing flaps, but the First Officer heard “15” instead of “five,” according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).  The NTSB concluded that the probable cause of the incident was “the flight crew’s failure to manage the airplane’s vertical flightpath, airspeed, and pitch attitude following a miscommunication about the captain’s desired flap setting during the initial climb.”

“To some extent, encounters with bad weather or turbulence are unavoidable when you fly, but no passenger should ever have to endure such a terrifying experience due to pilot error while traveling on a routine commercial flight.” Curtis Miner, Counsel for Plaintiffs said. “Our clients’ entire, three-generation family was subjected to this terrifying, near-miss incident.  We are committed to seeking justice and fair compensation on their behalf.'” Austin Bartlett, Counsel for Plaintiffs, commented: “This nearly catastrophic flight was horrific and traumatic. The Maltz family and all airlines passengers deserve better.”

The complaint was filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois where United Airlines is headquartered.

About Colson Hicks Eidson

Colson Hicks Eidson is a boutique litigation firm serving clients in local, national, and international matters. Our multilingual team of highly experienced attorneys is dedicated to providing our clients with top-tier legal representation backed by a commitment to hard work, creative thinking, responsiveness, and professionalism. From our offices in Miami, we have handled a broad range of significant legal matters around the world for over 50 years.

About BartlettChen LLC

Based in Chicago, BartlettChen LLC represents individuals in aviation, wrongful death, and immigration matters across the nation and internationally. Austin Bartlett of BartlettChen has practiced aviation law for more than two decades and brings the unique perspective of a former aviation defense attorney to help victims and their families secure full compensation for their losses.

Colson Hicks Eidson is pleased to announce that nine attorneys have been named in the 2024 Lawdragon 500 Leading Plaintiff Consumer Lawyers. Lawyers for this guide are selected through Lawdragon’s process of independent journalistic research and submissions.  Their selection process emphasizes lawyers who have demonstrated consistent excellence and have made notable impacts in their fields.

Click here to read the full guide.

The Firm’s recognized attorneys are listed below.

About Colson Hicks Eidson

Colson Hicks Eidson is a boutique litigation law firm based in Miami, Florida, serving clients in local, national, and international matters across multiple languages. Practice areas include complex civil and commercial litigation, catastrophic personal injury, medical negligence, product liability, class action, mass tort, and white-collar criminal defense for the most serious and challenging of cases.  Since 1971, the firm and its lawyers have consistently worked to be respected by the state and federal judiciary – securing numerous multimillion-dollar verdicts, judgments, and settlements on behalf of clients. Learn more at www.colson.com.

MIAMI (November 2, 2023) – Colson Hicks Eidson announced today that it has been named in the 2024 list of The Best Law Firms in America. The Miami-based firm has once again received this honor at both the national and metropolitan level. This follows a recent announcement where seven of the firm’s attorneys were named as Best Lawyers in America” for 2024 across a range of fields.

“We strive every day to provide the best possible representation for our clients, and we are honored to continue to receive this recognition for our work,” said Dean C. Colson, Managing Partner of Colson Hicks Eidson.

Best Lawyers, a distinguished peer-review legal publication company, develops The Best Law Firms in America listings through individual lawyer and law firm surveys and firm recognition history. Colson Hicks Eidson is recognized in the following areas.

National Tier 2 (Represents national clients and smaller companies)

  1. Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Plaintiffs

Metropolitan Tier 1 (Scored within a certain percentage of highest-scoring firms in area)

Miami

  1. Bet-the-Company Litigation
  2. Commercial Litigation
  3. Criminal Defense: White-Collar
  4. Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Plaintiffs
  5. Medical Malpractice Law – Plaintiffs
  6. Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs
  7. Product Liability Litigation – Plaintiffs
  8. Insurance Law

Metropolitan Tier 2 (Scored within a certain percentage of the next highest-scoring firms in area)

Miami

  1. Professional Malpractice Law – Defendants
  2. Professional Malpractice Law – Plaintiffs

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About Colson Hicks Eidson

Colson Hicks Eidson is a boutique litigation law firm based in Miami, Florida, serving clients in local, national, and international matters across multiple languages. Practice areas include complex civil and commercial litigation, catastrophic personal injury, medical negligence, product liability, class action, mass tort, and white-collar criminal defense for the most serious and challenging of cases.  Since 1971, the firm and its lawyers have consistently worked to be respected by the state and federal judiciary – securing numerous multimillion-dollar verdicts, judgments, and settlements on behalf of clients. Learn more at www.colson.com.

Colson Hicks Eidson (CHE) is proud to announce its recent involvement in a significant legal matter with statewide implications. Sabrina Saieh, an attorney at CHE, has filed an amicus brief in the First District Court of Appeal in the case of State of Florida, Agency of Health Care Administration v. Alfredo Ivan Murciano, M.D. in support of Dr. Murciano’s brief.

The amicus brief was filed on behalf of CHE senior partner Roberto Martinez, who served on the most recent Florida Constitution Review Commission and was the primary sponsor of an amendment to the Florida Constitution, now found in Article V, Section 21, titled “Judicial Interpretation of Statutes and Rules.” This amendment explicitly prevents courts and Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) from deferring to administrative agencies’ interpretations of state statutes or rules.

The brief urges the First District Court of Appeal to recognize that Article V, Section 21 was added to the Florida Constitution to prevent executive branch agencies, such as the Agency of Health Care Administration (ACHA), from imposing their legal interpretations on the courts and ALJs. The Florida Constitution prohibits ALJs and the courts from accepting mandates from ACHA to adopt their findings of fact or issue orders based on ACHA’s interpretations of statutes and rules that contradict those determined by the ALJs or courts during a de novo review.

This amicus brief underscores CHE’s dedication to defending the integrity of the Florida Constitution and ensuring that judicial interpretation of statutes and rules remains impartial and independent from administrative agencies.