NY Attorney General Sues Volkswagen, Claims Dozens Knew About ‘Defeat Device’ – The Truth About Cars

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Volkswagen Chattanooga Tower

The state of New York wants its pound of flesh from Volkswagen, as well as $450 million.

A lawsuit filed against the automaker by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman alleges widespread knowledge of the emissions-cheating “defeat device” used in millions of diesel vehicles, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The only way Volkswagen could pull off the massive deception is if dozens of engineers and executives on both sides of the Atlantic knew about the device, the suit claims.

Schneiderman’s lawsuit means even more financial risk for the automaker, which just agreed to spend $15.3 billion to settle the U.S. fallout from the scandal. That price tag includes a massive buyback program, environmental remediation efforts, and $603 million in fines from consumer law violations.

Volkswagen installed devices designed to cheat emissions tests on up to 11 million vehicles between 2009 and 2015. The device itself dates back to 1999, and the decision to use it in a new crop of diesel models came a decade ago.

Former Volkswagen of America CEO Michael Horn, who left the company in March, once told Congress that knowledge of the device was limited to a “couple of software engineers,” but Schneiderman isn’t buying it.

According to the WSJ, the New York suit claims “egregious and pervasive violations” on Volkswagen’s part, which was “the result of a willful and systematic scheme of cheating by dozens of employees at all levels of the company.”

A number of employees named in the suit haven’t been previously identified. Overseas, German authorities recently expanded their investigation to focus on former CEO Martin Winterkorn and current brand chief Herbert Diess.