Illinois’ attorney general has become
the latest official to take automaker Volkswagen to court over the
installation of devices designed to deceive government emissions tests, filing
suit in Chicago to demand Volkswagen pay for the deception, which regulators
said allowed vehicles to emit more pollution than allowed by law.
On Nov. 7, Illinois Attorney General
Lisa Madigan brought the lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court against VW and
its affiliated companies, including Audi and Porsche.
Madigan asked the court to order VW to
pay civil penalties of $50,000 per violation, plus a penalty of $10,000 per
violation per day for allegedly violating Illinois’ so-called Mobile Source
Regulations – permissible levels of automotive emissions, as established by the
Illinois Pollution Control Board.
The lawsuit centered on allegations VW
and its associated brands installed “defeat devices” on car models,
manufactured and sold from 2009-2016, which the automaker had marketed as “clean
diesel” automobiles. Vehicle models listed in the lawsuit included VW’s Jetta,
Golf, Touareg and Beetle models, as well as Audi’s A3, Q7, A6, A7, A8 and Q5,
and the Porsche Cayenne Diesel.
The defeat devices essentially allowed
the engine to detect when inspectors connected emissions testing equipment to
the vehicle, and shifted the engines to run in a test mode, which emitted far
less pollutants than when the vehicle was being driven on the road.
The lawsuit estimated VW had sold
about 19,000 such vehicles in Illinois, and 568,000 across the U.S.
Madigan’s lawsuit comes on the heels
of a $15 billion deal approved by a California federal judge to settle claims
brought by consumers and federal and California state regulators over about
Across the country, hundreds of
lawsuits – primarily class action complaints - had been brought in federal
district courts in the months following the disclosure of the “defeat devices”
in September 2015. A federal judicial panel transferred those lawsuits to the
Northern District of California and centralized them for proceedings before
U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer.
The complaints include allegations of fraud,
concealment and violations of various states’ consumer fraud and deceptive
Law firms representing plaintiffs who filed suit in
Chicago federal court include: Power, Rogers & Smith; Eimer Stahl; Sweetnam
LLC; Bock & Hatch; Edward T. Joyce & Associates; Freeborn & Peters;
Barnow & Associates; Morgan Law; Sawin Law; Clifford Law Offices; Siprut
P.C.; DiTomasso Lubin; Stepick Law; the Progressive Law Group; Grotefeld
Hoffmann Schleiter Gordon & Ochoa, and Ansari & Shapiro, all of
Chicago; Andersen Wanca, of Rolling Meadows; and Heygood, Orr & Pearson, of