Volkswagen agreed to pay West Virginia more than $2 million Tuesday after the German automaker admitted to using so-called cheat devices to dupe government emissions tests.
The settlement saved the state more than a half million dollars in legal fees while also assuring West Virginia received a larger payout than it would have had it engaged in multistate litigation against the company. VW has struggled to get out from underneath the nearly 3-year-old scandal.
“This settlement marks a huge victory for West Virginia consumers,” Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said in a press statement announcing the deal. “Trust is a crucial element to the consumer-business relationship. This should send a strong message that our office will vigorously pursue anyone whose actions erode that relationship.”
No portion of the $2 million settlement will be diverted to reimburse outside law firms because Morrisey handled the entire lawsuit in-house. He alleged the scheme led to false advertising as the automakers supposedly “clean diesel” engines emitted up to 40 times the legal limit of nitrogen oxide.
VW admitted in 2015 to installing devises in hundreds of thousands of diesel-powered vehicles in the U.S. and would only kick on during road conditions when emission-measuring tools were not engaged. The EPA finally caught up to the company’s ruse after West Virginia University researchers discovered discrepancies.
Executives at the beleaguered company were charged in January of conspiring to dupe regulators on the environmental quality of its diesel vehicles. Oliver Schmidt, the first executive for the German automaker to be arrested in connection with the emission scandal, was among those charged.
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