If the West Virginia case is successful, VW could be on the hook for serious monetary punishment. Morrisey asks that any consumers in the state get refunds totaling the premium paid over a gasoline model, the loss in resale value, and the expected costs of lost performance from the upcoming recall repair. On top of that, the automaker would pay the state $5,000 for each violating vehicle and all of the related costs for preparing for the trial. According to the complaint's legal documents (here, as a PDF), the state's DMV currently shows 2,684, diesel 2009-2015 VW vehicles registered there.
Morrisey isn't the only state attorney general to take a stern look at VW's actions, and his counterparts in at least 29 other states are investigation similar courses of action, as well. In addition, the Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency have their own probes underway. The final result could be very expensive for the automaker.
CHARLESTON — Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced today that his Office filed a complaint against Volkswagen of America, Inc. (Volkswagen), alleging the business violated the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act.
The complaint alleges that Volkswagen fraudulently manufactured, advertised and sold a line of "clean diesel" vehicles with Turbo-charged Direct Injection (TDI) engines.
"Volkswagen allegedly knowingly engineered certain vehicles to cheat U.S. emissions tests," Attorney General Morrisey said. "That is one reason why we have filed this complaint."
A May 2014 study conducted by the Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines & Emissions at West Virginia University found elevated levels of emissions on several Volkswagen cars. Their data was then turned over to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board.
Volkswagen allegedly engineered certain diesel vehicles to cheat U.S. emissions tests by equipping them with a "defeat device" that allows emissions to appear compliant when a vehicle is being tested, but suppresses emissions controls to increase performance and fuel economy when operating normally. This device allows these vehicles to emit up to 40 times the allowable levels of certain pollutants.
"West Virginia consumers responded to Volkswagen's advertising by purchasing TDI clean diesel models, expecting that their vehicles would be environmentally friendly, fuel efficient, and high performance as advertised." Morrisey said. "According to the complaint, Volkswagen will not be able to comply with the EPA order to make the affected vehicles comply with emissions standards without substantially degrading their performance and fuel efficiency to a level below what was advertised."
The complaint asks for civil penalties of $5,000 per violation and all costs related to the investigation, litigation and administration of this matter.
It also asks the Court to require Volkswagen to provide West Virginia consumers full refunds of the premium paid for TDI clean diesel vehicles above comparable gasoline engine models; for the decrease in value of the affected vehicles; and for expected costs incurred as a result of the decreased performance following issue repairs.
According to the EPA, the following Volkswagen diesel models have been affected: 2009-2015 VW Jetta; 2009-2015 VW Beetle; 2009-2015 VW Golf; 2014-2015 VW Passat; and 2009-2015 Audi A3.
The complaint was filed in Kanawha County Circuit Court and was assigned case number 15-C-1833.
A copy of the complaint can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/1hgsKkw
Consumers who believe they have purchased an affected vehicle should call the Attorney General's Office Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-368-8808 or the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239. Consumers can also file an online complaint at http://www.wvago.gov.