Volkswagen AG investors in a proposed class against the German automaker are seeking a partial summary judgment on certain claims involving the auto manufacturer’s emissions cheat, arguing the company acknowledged when it pleaded guilty to civil and criminal charges that it made false statements with intent to mislead.
“Having accepted criminal liability for knowingly and fraudulently misrepresenting the ‘clean diesel’ vehicles’ ‘environmental friendliness,’ and emissions compliance, VW AG cannot credibly dispute that it misrepresented those same facts to investors, and did so with [full knowledge],” the investors claim, adding that “Discovery and further litigation on these undisputed points would be needless and wasteful.”
Volkswagen formally pleaded guilty March 10 to conspiracy to defraud the United States, wire fraud, and Clean Air Act violations and agreed to pay $4.3 billion in penalties stemming from its defeat devices, which allowed diesel-powered vehicles to run without emissions controls. VW programmed the vehicles to detect emissions testing and turn on pollution controls, allowing them to pass the tests when in real-life driving they were releasing up to 40 times the maximum limit of gasses harmful to the environment and human health.
The investors say that senior VW executives approved of the defeat devices being installed; that their “clean diesel” vehicles did not comply with emissions standards; that they lied about emissions levels and regulatory compliance; and denied the presence and purpose of the defeat devices; frequently updated the defeat device software to become better at evading emissions tests; and destroyed evidence of its cheat scheme to mislead authorities.
These actions demonstrate that VW’s statements to its investors about the “environmental friendliness” of its vehicles and their “clean diesel” technologies were clearly false, the investors claim.
Source: Law 360