Oct 13 • 2 min read



The NYTs reported that EPA “directed Volkswagen to recall nearly a half-million cars, saying the automaker illegally installed software in its diesel-powered cars to evade standards for reducing smog.”  The Justice Department is reportedly investigating the company for potential violations of the Clean Air Act.  The damages for such a violation could be significant. “Under the terms of the Clean Air Act, the Justice Department could impose fines of as much as $37,500 for each recalled vehicle, for a possible total penalty of as much as $18 billion.” http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/19/business/volkswagen-is-ordered-to-recall-nearly-500000-vehicles-over-emissions-software.html

VW America CEO testified before Congress that:

“VW America CEO testified before Congress that: “To my understanding this was not a corporate decision, this was something individuals did,”


“Clean Diesel” was a central part of VW’s advertising campaign.  Click here to view advertisement (Click here to watch video).


“Old Wives’ Tales”  “Isn’t Diesel Dirty?”

The irony is overwhelming. Hysterical, but not so funny.

Even if VW’s actions and decisions were those of “a few bad apples” the question arises, why did those individuals feel that they should or needed to make those decisions and take those actions?  What could VW have done to avoid the problems? And what may it have done to incentivize its employees to cheat?

VW also faces civil claims by purchasers of some of its cars. A California proposed class action complaint against Volkswagen alleges, inter alia, that:

“since model year 2009, [Volkswagen] developed a scheme to evade compliance with United States emission standards by the installation of software deliberately designed to fool testing devices and conceal the fact that certain models of their diesel vehicles released emissions up to 40 times higher than what was legally permitted under normal driving conditions.”

The plaintiffs claimed that they purchased their vehicles based on Volkswagen’s allegedly false representations.  Plaintiffs seek restitution, disgorgement of profits, compensatory damages, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.

The civil complaint, as posted on plaintiffs’ counsel’s website is available at: