The Volkswagen Group has recorded a valuable success in a US court in the emissions scandal. A lawsuit filed by the State of Wyoming for violating environmental laws was dismissed on Thursday by the US district judge, Charles Breyer, in San Francisco. The decision is likely to save VW from further billions of costs, especially since it could also offset claims of other federal states, which go beyond already achieved “diesel gate” comparisons. VW was satisfied with the judge’s verdict.
Wyoming had tried to impose fines against VW because of the environmental damage caused by emissions gas manipulation. Judge Breyer stated that although Volkswagen was indeed responsible for manipulation. However, since these were carried out during the production of the diesel cars, the Congress had decided that the EPA, rather than the individual federal states, was in the best position to deal with damage regulations. Judge Breyer stated that violations of the Clean Air Act are the matter of the EPO.
A complaint from the Federal Authority had already been able to settle VW with a billions of dollars. VW had agreed to pay $2.9 billion as fine for the increased pollution caused by its diesel cars. The company had committed 25 billion dollars to meet claims from buyers, dealers, environmental authorities and federal states. In addition, the company has offered to recall half a million diesel vehicles.
Some of the payments are already being sent to US federal states, where VW diesel cars were sold with tampering software for emissions gas control. However, nine other states were still punishing additional penalties in addition to Wyoming. In the cases of Illinois, Minnesota and Ohio, however, Volkswagen is likely to have little to fear now, because these lawsuits are also settled at Breyer’s court. The judge took his arguments in the rejection of Wyoming’s complaint also to other states.
The financial risk would have been significant for the auto maker. Alone Wyoming had asked for fines of 37,500 dollars a day, on a car with illegally inflicted pollutant emissions on the roads of the Federal State. With almost 2000 affected cars, 44.9 million dollars would have been generated per day – and the fraud ran for several years.
The claims are, of course, theoretical, but VW would have had to submit to the complaint if tough negotiations had been programmed. The Alabama, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Texas and Tennessee have at least six states that do not complain before Breyer’s court, which makes the outcome more uncertain.
VW lawyer Robert Giuffra said the court had acknowledged that Wyoming and other states could not be allowed to hold VW accountable for the same conduct, which had already been sanctioned by federal authorities. Therefore, it would now be necessary to apply for similar complaints. With the Connecticut, Maine, Delaware, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Rhode Island and Washington VW had agreed on comparisons at the end of March. In the US nearly 600,000 diesel cars are affected by the scandal, around 11 million worldwide.