I can’t imagine anything much scarier than finding out your business is being sued by the United States of America.
Of course, to avoid that from happening, all you have to do is play by the rules and not intentionally deceive the government while taking home millions of dollars in profit. Pretty easy, right?
Volkswagen is learning that lesson the hard way. The U.S. Department of Justice has filed suit against the automaker over the emissions scandal that saw the German car giant install software in hundreds of thousands of cars to cheat emissions tests.
The allegations in the lawsuit, which accuse Volkswagen of intentionally violating the Clean Air Act by installing illegal devices to impair emission control systems in 600,000 vehicles, carries penalties that could cost Volkswagen billions of dollars. Yes, the wrath of the U.S. government will finally rain down on VW.
Assistant Attorney General John Cruden, head of the department’s environment and natural resources division, said,
The United States will pursue all appropriate remedies against Volkswagen to redress the violations of our nation’s clean air laws.
The Justice Department lawsuit accuses Volkswagen of four counts of violating the U.S. Clean Air Act, including tampering with the emissions control system and failing to report violations. The suit also alleges the results of VW’s actions were detrimental to public health.
As if that’s not bad enough, things could get even messier for Volkswagen.
The U.S. has also been investigating criminal fraud allegations for misleading U.S. consumers and regulators. Those allegations would come in a different lawsuit, which is a very real possibility if lawyers can point to sufficient proof of deception.
Yesterday’s civil lawsuit could be just the beginning of Volkswagen’s legal ramifications. Criminal charges and lawsuits from other countries could seriously harm the company’s ability to remain viable.
Damages sought by the U.S. haven’t been made public, so we’ll keep a close eye on developments surrounding the civil lawsuit and the potential criminal charges, and how the consequences of each will affect the company and the U.S. diesel industry as a whole.
How do you think Volkswagen should be punished for its emissions scandal?