Tuesday, June 29, 2021
US litigation over “Dieselgate”
VW threatened again with billions in fines
VW has already paid billions in fines in the emissions scandal. But in the US, the German company is now facing a setback in court that could cost the automaker again dearly. To prevent that, VW wants to take it to the Supreme Court.
Volkswagen suffered a major defeat in a US legal battle over possible further high fines in the “Dieselgate” scandal. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the state can pursue sanctions against the automaker for systematic exhaust gas manipulation that go beyond the penalties already agreed at the US federal level. For VW, regional proceedings like this one in Ohio are explosive – the Wolfsburg-based car company could again face fines worth billions.
When asked, Volkswagen announced that it wanted to bring the case to the US Supreme Court, the American Supreme Court. The group is of the opinion that claims by individual states in the emissions scandal are compensated for by penalties and compensation that VW had to pay for violating the nationwide Clean Air Act. Several other US courts have come to this assessment in similar cases.
The Ohio ruling poses a high financial risk for VW, according to the court’s decision. The judges were 6 to 1 in favor of allowing further penalties against the company. Judge Michael Donnelly, who was the only one against, put the additional fines that VW could theoretically incur as “more than a trillion dollars”. Ohio is just one of several locations – the automaker has faced similar lawsuits in other US states.
2015 US emissions scandal uncovered
In September 2015, under pressure from the US environmental authorities, VW admitted to having manipulated the exhaust technology of diesel cars for years with special software (“Defeat Device”). The group has already booked costs of around 32 billion euros for the scandal – mostly for fines in the USA. But VW could face further expensive sanctions. In June 2020, an appeals court ruled that despite settlements that had already been concluded, additional penalties were permissible at the regional level.
This involved lawsuits from two districts in the states of Florida and Utah, which could, however, also point the way nationwide. The appellate judges had stated that they were aware that their decision could lead to “breathtaking burdens” for VW. Based on the regional catalogs of fines in the two districts alone, the fines could potentially amount to up to $ 11.2 billion per year. In this case, VW had already turned to the US Supreme Court in the capital Washington in January to prevent additional fines.