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UNITED STATES v. CHRYSLER CORP.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA


September 13, 1977

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff,
v.
CHRYSLER CORPORATION, Defendant

The opinion of the court was delivered by: HART

FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

 HART, District Judge.

 This action arises from the improper assembly by defendant Chrysler Corporation of a number of 1974 model year vehicles of its RG engine family at its Hamtramck, Michigan plant. Inadequate quality control procedures which are designed to prevent mis-assembled vehicles from entering into commerce were allegedly responsible for the production of these incorrectly assembled vehicles.

 The critical legal issue raised in this case is what test should be applied to determine whether a vehicle assembled with a different part than that specified for use on the vehicle in the manufacturer's application for certification is covered by the certificate of conformity applicable to that vehicle. Section 203(a)(1) of the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. ยง 1857f-2(a)(1), provides in pertinent part:

 

The following acts and the causing thereof are prohibited:

 

(1) in the case of a manufacturer of new motor vehicles or new motor vehicle engines for distribution in commerce, the sale, or the offering for sale, or the introduction, or delivery for introduction, into commerce . . . of any [such vehicle or engine] . . . unless such vehicle or engine is covered by a certificate of conformity issued (and in effect) under regulations prescribed under this part . . .

 The certificate of conformity applicable to the Chrysler Corporation vehicles at issue here states that it covers "only those new motor vehicles or new motor vehicle engines which conform, in all material respects, to the design specifications described in the application for this certificate and which are produced during the 1974 model year production period of said manufacturer . . . ."

 After consideration of the parties' memoranda, stipulation of facts, and evidence presented at trial, the Court makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law.

 I

 FINDINGS OF FACT

 1. Defendant Chrysler Corporation (Chrysler) is organized under the laws of the State of Delaware, is engaged in the manufacture and sale of new motor vehicles in the United States, and is doing business within the District of Columbia.

 2. In mid-1973 Chrysler submitted to the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) an application for a certificate of conformity in order to market its 1974 model-year motor vehicles, pursuant to Title II of the Clean Air Act and the regulations thereunder.

 3. On August 3, 1973, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency issued a certificate of conformity to defendant Chrysler Corporation for its RG engine family, including the 198 and 225 CID (cubic inch displacement) engines, for use in, among others, Chrysler Corporation's Plymouth Valiant and Dodge Dart motor vehicles. The certificate of conformity states that it covers "only those new motor vehicles or new motor vehicle engines which conform, in all material respects, to the design specifications described in the application for this certificate and which are produced during the 1974 model year production period of said manufacturer. . ."

 4. During the period from August 14, 1973 to July 26, 1974, defendant Chrysler Corporation manufactured and delivered into commerce from its Hamtramck Assembly Plant 99,884 Plymouth Valiants and Dodge Darts of the RG engine family, of the following classifications:

 

(a) 198 CID -- manual transmission -- Non-California;

 

(b) 198 CID -- automatic transmission -- Non-California;

 

(c) 225 CID -- manual transmission -- Non-California;

 

(d) 225 CID -- manual transmission -- California; and

 

(e) 225 CID -- automatic transmission -- California.

 5. Inspections by the Environmental Protection Agency and the State of California Air Resources Board (CARB) uncovered thirty-seven (37) vehicles which were found to be equipped with distributors, carburetors, exhaust gas recirculation values, and/or orifice spark advance controls with part numbers other than those which were designated by Chrysler on its application for certification for use of these vehicles. 6. The following list sets forth for each vehicle found by EPA or CARB to be assembled by Chrysler Corporation in one of ten incorrect configurations the EPA vehicle identification number, the vehicle description (engine size, transmission type, and whether Federal or California vehicle), incorrect component, and correct and incorrect part numbers: Cars Shipped to California Part # found Correct EPA Vehicle # Description Component on Vehicle Part # GROUP I: 4, 16, 18, 19, 21, 225-Auto-C Distributor 3755042 3755470 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 35, 36, 37 GROUP III: 17, 20, 28, 34 225-Man-C Distributor 3755037 3755467 GROUP V: 40 225-Auto-C OSAC 3755582 3755600 GROUP VII: 41 225-Auto-C EGR 3769958 3769660 Cars Shipped to Other 49 States GROUP II: 5 225-Man-F Distributor 3755467 3755037 GROUP IV: 1, 2, 7 198-Man-F OSAC 3755582 3755600 GROUP VI: 8, 11 225-Man-F OSAC 3755600 3755582 GROUP VIII: 12, 13, 14, 15 198-Auto-F OSAC 3755600 3755582 EGR 3830101 3769658 or 3830178 GROUP IX: 6 225-Man-F Carburetor 3830402 3751423 OSAC 3755600 3755582 GROUP X: 9 225-Man-F Carburetor 3751421 3751423

19770913

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