VW faces growing number of class action lawsuits

Staff Photo by John Rawlston A diesel Jetta is photographed at the Al Johnson Volkswagen Volvo dealership on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015, in Dalton, Ga.
photo Staff Photo by John Rawlston A diesel Jetta is photographed at the Al Johnson Volkswagen Volvo dealership on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015, in Dalton, Ga.

Owners of Volkswagen and Audi cars that regulators claim were rigged to only temporarily meet pollution standards are lining up across the country to sue the world's biggest automobile company.

USA Today reported Wednesday at least 34 federal lawsuits have been filed against Volkswagen from people claiming their cars are less valuable due to its emission-testing scandal. Later Wednesday, a Chattanooga law firm filed yet another federal lawsuit in Chattanooga on behalf of seven defendants charging that VW misrepresented its vehicles and engaged in fraud by installing a "defeat device" on certain diesel models to pass emission tests.

"As a result of the intentional actions of Volkswagen, the individuals who purchased the TDI clean diesel engine models will incur substantial damages, probably in the thousands of dollars per vehicle," the law firm of Patrick, Beard, Schulman & Jacoway, P.C. said in a statement Wednesday night. "Volks- wagen has been an important part of the Chattanooga community, but we are certainly disappointed by the actions that have been taken by Volkswagen in misrepresenting the true nature of its diesel engines. We hope that Volkswagen will now do the right thing and compensate these class members for the damages that they will incur."

VW executives have admitted its diesel cars had software that cheated on federal and California emission tests. For the past seven years, different models of VW cars would only turn on the top emission controls when they were being tested, and then dump 40 times the allowed level of a pollutant known as nitrogen oxide into the air when they were on the road.

Even though there are no accidents or injuries related to the case as there were in class action lawsuits against General Motors, the car owners argue that the resale value of their cars have been hurt.

USA Today reported that Toyota paid car owners $1.1 billion in a federal class-action suit related to the loss of resale value of cars that suffered from unintended acceleration.

VW says the faulty diesel emissions software could be on as many as 11 million cars worldwide.

Volkswagen also is facing criminal investigations. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Tuesday he is working with other state attorneys general in a criminal probe of VW's actions.

Last week, GM settlement charges against it from the U.S. Department of Justice over faulty ignition switches resulted in paying a $900 million penalty. Last year, Toyota agreed to pay $1.2 billion to settle criminal charges its employees didn't notify authorities about reports of unintended acceleration of its cars.

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