May 2023


Suppliers of Diesel “Cheat Device” Fined $10m

In the latter part of 2022, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fined two Detroit-based diesel suppliers. Diesel Ops and Orion Diesel allegedly manufactured, sold, and installed aftermarket parts that did not adhere to the Clean Air Act. It was in 2021 when the EPA allegedly caught the companies using the parts, which are known as defeat devices used to cheat on emissions tests.

A Michigan District Court awarded the judgment, ordering both suppliers to pay a combined civil penalty equivalent to $10 million (or a little over £8 million). A permanent injunction was also imposed on Diesel Ops and Orion Diesel to ensure that the companies will not sell the defeat devices.

The company’s owner, Nicholas Piccolo, was ordered to pay a civil penalty of $455,925 (around £365,515) after he allegedly ignored calls for him to provide information as requested by the EPA. Additionally, Piccolo allegedly violated the Federal Debt Collection Procedures Act, for which he was fined $1 million (around £801,700). This developed after authorities discovered that he allegedly employed fraudulent means in transferring funds.

Although there was no specific mention of which devices were involved in the illegal act, videos that the company previously posted on YouTube allegedly showed performance-enhancing diesel truck parts.

The EPA’s initial observation

Prior to the court’s decision, the EPA was already observing the actions of both suppliers. Allegedly, Piccolo knew about this as the agency sent him a warning that ordered the companies to stop the making, selling, and installation of the defeat devices.

Despite the agency’s orders, Piccolo and his companies allegedly still sold the cheat devices to Dodge Cummins and Ford Powerstroke engine manufacturers. Even if the devices helped carmakers achieve better performance and mileage, they were considered dangerous and illegal because they allegedly emitted elevated levels of toxic gas. This prompted the EPA to collect information about the companies and their activities, which led to the issuance of a Clean Air Act violation notice.

The EPA and toxic emissions

The Environmental Protection Agency is the United States’ primary agency tasked with issues concerning environmental protection. They protect the public from dangerous diesel emissions, the gas released by diesel vehicles. The EPA deems defeat devices illegal because allowed carmakers to hide real emissions and cheat regulatory tests.

According to Larry Starfield, the devices negatively impact the environment and can destroy lives as they allow vehicles to release high levels of nitrogen oxide (NOx), a gas that produces ground-level ozone, acid rain, and smog.

A defeat device-equipped vehicle can detect when a regulatory test is about to begin. Once this happens, it immediately caps its emission levels to amounts that are within government-mandated limits. While this makes the vehicle appear compliant with government air quality mandates, this state is only temporary.

After the vehicle is brought out of the lab and driven on real-life roads, it once again starts to emit excessive amounts of NOx. The emissions are often 40 times over the limit. Carmakers that use defeat devices are more concerned about making a profit than keeping people safe. They and everyone who earns or has earned from using the illegal devices are responsible for the environmental and health distress their actions have caused.

The court’s decision and the EPA’s diligence are proof that authorities are seriously going after businesses or companies that violate the Clean Air Act and continue to manufacture and use defeat devices.

Dieselgate and NOx emissions

The EPA and similar agencies worldwide have been going after vehicle manufacturers using defeat devices since 2015, when the Dieselgate diesel emissions scandal first erupted. The Volkswagen Group was initially the only carmaker involved in the scandal. US authorities accused VW of installing the devices on Audi and Volkswagen diesel vehicles sold in the American automobile market.

Dieselgate soon turned into a global scandal, with carmakers such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Renault, and Nissan also accused of benefitting from defeat devices. Drivers in the US, UK, Europe, and many other countries are affected by the diesel emissions scandal. Legal firms urge them to file a diesel claim against their carmaker.

Drivers of affected Nissan vehicles recently started a diesel emission claim after the carmaker admitted they falsified emissions test data in their Japanese factories. In 2017, Nissan recalled over one million diesel vehicles after their safety checks violated domestic requirements.

NOx or nitrogen oxide is a group of gases that can adversely impact the environment and put lives in danger. Once exposed to NOx, a person will be hounded by multiple health conditions, specifically:

  • Dementia
  • Asthma
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Corroded teeth
  • Laryngospasm and asphyxiation
  • Certain cancers
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Premature/Early death

The EPA and other government authorities are right in calling out the Michigan-based suppliers for manufacturing, selling, and using defeat devices. Diesel Ops, Orion Diesel, and owner Piccolo are no different from the carmakers they sold the devices to. They’re all responsible for exposing the public to high volumes of NOx emissions. Affected drivers should start their diesel claim as soon as possible.

Am I qualified to file my diesel claim?

 For all of the information you need to determine if you are eligible to receive compensation if you decide to file a diesel claim, go to Once you’re verified, find an emissions expert you can work with in starting your emission claim. This will help make the process easier, especially if you plan to join a group litigation order or GLO.

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