It might be in violation of local laws, in addition to federal ones.
Volkswagen is one step closer to another payout, this time for its emission cheating in Florida, Utah and Ohio after the US Supreme Court on Monday rejected the company's request to avoid lawsuits. It did this by refusing to hear the appeals of VW and supplier Bosch, allowing the lower court rulings to stand, reports Reuters. The cases sought to hold the companies liable under local laws, in addition to the state and federal ones it's already being punished under.
"We are confident the strengths of our factual and legal defenses, including that the software updates reduced emissions, and will contest these claims vigorously as these cases proceed," a spokesperson for Volkswagen said.
VW says that it has a case against the local charges because the Clean Air Act says that only the federal government can go after culprits. And it has already paid more than $20 billion to the US Environmental Protection Agency. The lawsuits say that deceiving the EPA itself is against local law. President Joe Biden was asked to weigh in and agreed, saying the Supreme Court should not hear the case.
"We're pleased the Supreme Court recognized that federal environmental law does not give car manufacturers the right to defraud Ohioans," a spokesperson for Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said.
VW does have the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on its side. The San Francisco court ruled that the company could be penalized for cars it tampered with after sale through the Clean Air Act, but not the ones that were tampered with presale, noting it would mean "a staggering liability for Volkswagen."
This whole ordeal stems from VW installing special emissions software on a half-million cars in the US, mostly Jetta sedans and Golfs, and more than ten million worldwide. The EPA and California Air Resources Board were tipped off in 2014 and Volkswagen finally admitted it in 2015. The company has been paying penance ever since, including starting and financing a subsidiary called Electrify America, which operates an electric vehicle charging network in the US.