West Virginia Sues Volkswagen for Refunds

October 7, 2015

By Kate White

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has filed a lawsuit against Volkswagen asking that the German automotive company be forced to provide state consumers a refund after it admitted to cheating U.S. emissions tests.

The complaint, filed Friday in Kanawha Circuit Court, says Volkswagen violated the state's consumer credit and protection act when it installed emission cheating software in about 11 million vehicles.

The complaint alleges that Volkswagen fraudulently manufactured, advertised and sold a line of "clean diesel" vehicles with Turbo-charged Direct Injection engines. It asks the court to require the company 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.

The lawsuit also asks for civil penalties of $5,000 per violation.

According to the state Division of Motor Vehicles, the complaint states, there are 2,684 diesel Volkswagen vehicles with model years between 2009 and 2015 registered in the state. However, it is likely that the discovery process will reveal the number of affected vehicles sold to West Virginians is greater than the n umber currently registered with the DMV, according to the complaint.

"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 in a news release Monday. "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 lawsuit mentions that the scandal came to light last month after the EPA issued a notice of violation to Volkswagen based on information gathered during a study at West Virginia University. The violation sites the company for failing to comply with the Clean Air Act regulations in 482,000 diesel vehicles sold in the United States since 2008.

Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn resigned shortly after admitting the company's actions.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 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.

Those who believe they have purchased an affected vehicle should call the Attorney General's 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.

(c)2015 The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, W.Va.)