Volkswagen executives have been hit with three similar lawsuits filed by state attorneys general in New York, Massachusetts and Maryland.
The filings outline accusations against specific individuals, arguing that dozens of employees must have been aware of the ‘defeat’ device’s role in managing emissions output as the offending diesel engines were under development.
The complaints further allege that VW and Audi orchestrated a cover up for nearly a year and a half after West Virginia University researchers first identified discrepancies in real-world output of nitrogen oxides.
“The allegations against Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche reveal a culture of deeply-rooted corporate arrogance, combined with a conscious disregard for the rule of law and the protection of public health and the environment,” said New York attorney general Eric T. Schneiderman.
The $15 billion settlement negotiated by federal regulators “did not resolve any of the claims for civil penalties” that the plaintiff states are now pursuing. The lawsuit is also among the first proceedings to name individuals allegedly involved in the debacle, whether directly or indirectly, such as former chief executive Martin Winterkorn and current CEO Matthias Mueller.
VW has dismissed the significance of the lawsuits, downplaying the claims as “essentially not new” and already reflected in discussions with federal and state-level authorities, according to a statement to Reuters.
“It is regrettable that some states have decided to sue for environmental claims now,” a spokesperson added.