On September 18, 2015, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notice of violation of the Clean Air Act to Volkswagen after it was determined that Volkswagen had intentionally programmed TDI diesel engines to activate emission controls during smog tests, which caused the vehicles to meet US standards during the test, when in reality they were releasing 40x more NOx (Nitrogen Oxide) during real-time driving.
Volkswagen stated that 11 million vehicles are affected worldwide and 500,000 are in the United States.
The Volkswagen/Audi Emissions settlement program offers owners of affected vehicles two options: modification or buyback. The owner submits their selection with an Acceptance of Offer Letter.
The Acceptance of Offer Letter contains an Individual Release of Claims form that requires the notarized signatures of all title owners. Once signed and notarized, the claimant sends the documents back to Volkswagen using the Online Claims Portal, mail or fax. If mailing, the documents go to Michigan.
Many California volkswagen owners have reported that the notary certificate in their Individual Release of Claims form was rejected by Volkswagen.
The form’s certificate contains the following format:
State of_________________________________ )
County of ______________________________ )
I, ______________________________________, a Notary Public in and for said County in the State aforesaid, do hereby certify that __________________________________, who is personally known to me and the same person whose name is subscribed to the foregoing instrument appeared before me this day in person and acknowledged that they signed, sealed, and delivered the same instrument as their free and voluntary act for the uses and purposes therein set forth.
My seal: __________________________________________
CA law allows a notary to use an out of state notary certificate if the document is going out of state and it does not violate CA state law. Volkswagen’s Individual Release of Claims document appears destined for Michigan, so in theory a notary might assume they could utilize the notary certificate it contains. The sticking point is the verbiage. This certificate states that the notary personally knows the signer. California is the only state that prohibits a notary from using personal knowledge as a means of identifying a signer.
Per the 2016 California Notary Handbook:
“Identity is established if the notary public is presented with satisfactory evidence of the signer’s identity. (Civil Code section 1185(a)) Satisfactory Evidence – “Satisfactory Evidence” means the absence of any information, evidence, or other circumstances which would lead a reasonable person to believe that the individual is not the individual he or she claims to be and (A) identification documents or (B) the oath of a single credible witness or (C) the oaths of two credible witnesses under penalty of perjury, as specified below:the notary must rely on government issued identification documents to establish satisfactory evidence as to use satisfactory evidence supported by government issued identification documents.”
To be compliant with California law and to prevent rejection while processing this form in California, the notary is strongly urged to attach a CA all-purpose acknowledgment in lieu of executing the enclosed certificate. It is also recommended to write or stamp “See Attached” in the form’s notary section, which references the loose certificate that is stapled behind it.
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