Bye, Bye Miss American Pie – Volkswagen get a fresh serving of legal woes from the home of the red, white and blue as New Jersey files a lawsuit over emissions scandal.
Following the lead of fellow states Texas, New Mexico and West Virginia, New Jersey is just one more voice joining the chorus denouncing Volkswagen and its luxury units over the deliberate deception around diesel emissions. The U.S. Justice Department filed a further separate lawsuit accusing the carmakers of purposefully violating clean air laws and are seeking an estimated $46 billion in damages.
John J. Hoffman’s, New Jersey’s acting attorney general, suit condemns Volkswagen for perpetrating a deliberate and lengthy fraud on their consumers as well as knowingly violating state environmental laws. “For the past decade Volkswagen engaged in one of the largest frauds in the history of the automobile industry,” the lawsuit declares. Hoffman adds that their “lawsuit alleges that Volkswagen put profit ahead of honesty, integrity, fair business practices and – most disturbing of all – the well-being of people living and breathing the air here in New Jersey and across the country.” Hoffman made it clear that the lawsuit seeks to incur penalties for the fraudulent crimes committed against state environmental laws in addition to ensuring restitution for affected Volkswagen consumers. Though far from ideal, this lawsuit has probably been met with little reaction from Volkswagen as it is a drop in the ocean; they currently face over 500 civil lawsuits which had been consolidated before a federal judge in California, as well as facing investigations from 48 state attorneys general. What’s one more?
The emissions scandal, that saw the German carmakers admit to having installed illegal cheat device software on their diesel vehicles to cheat their emission figures thus appearing to pass industry limits, has seen to a drop in trust in the automobile industry as a whole and sales bans of the diesel vehicles implemented in areas throughout the world including California and Switzerland. A rep for Volkswagen was quoted as saying that their “top priority in the United States is to identify an approved remedy for affected diesel vehicles. We continue to cooperate fully with the EPA and (California) to achieve this goal.” Reparations in the United States are proving trickier than in Europe, where plans to fix over 8 million affected vehicles were approved and expected to begin operating without any predictable problems. The repairs for some of the vehicles are as simple as installing a bit of software, and not expected to take garages longer than half an hour in some cases.
So whilst those polluted clouds are slowly but surely starting to break in Europe, the smog remains thick on the other side of the Atlantic with no sign of a resolution. Americans do have the reputation of being a litigious bunch, so Volkswagen probably should have thought twice before attempting to dupe the lawsuit-loving nation. It’ll prove a costly mistake.