TRENTON, N.J. (Legal Newsline) – States, in addition to class action lawyers and the federal government, have turned their attention toward Volkswagen after its recent emissions scandal.
Citing violations that fall under the federal Air Pollution Control Act and the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, the State of New Jersey recently filed suit against Volkswagen, alleging that the German automaker is in violation of state and federal clean air laws due to the excess diesel emissions of its vehicles.
The suit also claims that the automaker is guilty of wide scale consumer fraud. It was filed Attorney General John J. Hoffman in Hudson County Superior Court on Feb. 5.
“The complaint asserts claims under New Jersey’s Air Pollution Control Act and the Consumer Fraud Act seeking penalties and other equitable relief," said Leyland Moore, spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office.
The state is seeking civil penalties against Volkswagen in addition to restitution to consumers adversely affected by the companies actions.
Over the past 10 years, according to the complaint, Volkswagen “has been engaged in one of the largest frauds in the history of the automobile industry. It developed and distributed into the marketplace sophisticated software to evade emissions requirements, it misled regulators about the true environmental impact of its vehicles, and it misled consumers about the products that it was marketing as supposedly good for the environment."
The State has retained the services of Lowenstein Sadler, a law firm headquartered in Roseland, to handle the case a contingency basis.
“We had a selection process that entailed seeking proposals from a number of experienced law firms that are approved by the State for complex litigation. The proposals were evaluated and scored. The two top firms were interviewed, and the firm that was determined to be most qualified to represent the State was retained," Moore said.
According to the Justice Department as well as prosecutors in Germany, up to 11 million Volkswagen vehicles produced worldwide between 2009 and 2015 have been equipped with software defined as “defeat devices” under provisions of the Clean Air Act.
These types of software circumvent EPA emissions standards for nitrogen oxides making it possible for vehicles emitting anywhere from nine to 40 times the legal standard to pass inspections. Volkswagen has filed a repair and recall plan for about 80,000 vehicles.
“Texas, New Mexico and West Virginia have sued, as has the federal EPA”, Moore added.
Alleging violations of clean air laws, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a suit seeking $46 billion on Jan. 4. Volkswagen and its subsidiaries are currently facing more than 500 civil suits.
A multidistrict litigation proceeding has been established in San Francisco federal court.