Thursday, March 30, 2017

AG Shapiro: $30.4 Million Damage Settlement With Volkswagen Over Vehicle Emissions

Attorney General Josh Shapiro Thursday announced a $30.4 million settlement with Volkswagen for environmental damages caused by a device the automaker placed on its cars which allowed excessive carbon monoxide emissions to escape into the air in violation of federal and state laws.
The settlement with Volkswagen is part of a $157 million overall settlement agreement between the automaker and the Attorneys General of 10 states, including Pennsylvania.
In an earlier settlement with Volkswagen for consumer protection law violations, the automaker agreed to pay an additional $23.1 million in civil penalties and costs to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Office of Attorney General, and two related state funds.
All told, Volkswagen will be paying $53.5 million to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and its agencies under these two settlements for consumer protection and environmental violations.  
Consumers who purchased or leased diesel vehicles manufactured by VW, Audi, or Porsche can submit claims to have their vehicles bought back or fixed by visiting the VWCourtSettlement website. This program is being overseen by the Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission and a Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee.
Under the agreement, Pennsylvania will receive $30.4 million from Volkswagen as its portion of the settlement for environmental damages and vehicle claims, which Pennsylvania can use broadly for “any environmentally beneficial purpose.”
It will be up to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to determine how best to use the settlement funds to benefit the state’s environment.  
“I’m fighting to ensure a healthy environment for Pennsylvanians and protect their right to clean air and pure water,” Attorney General Shapiro said in announcing the settlement. “In this settlement, our prosecutors have addressed the serious harms caused by Volkswagen’s emissions device and its conscious cheating that resulted in excessive, illegal amounts of carbon monoxide fouling the air across our Commonwealth.”  
The 10 states whose Attorneys General signed on to the settlement are Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and  Washington.  
The key provisions of the settlement include:  
-- $30.4 million payment to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to address environmental damages caused by Volkswagen’s misconduct;
-- Volkswagen commits to comply with restitution and buyback provisions already in place under the earlier settlement agreement for violations of consumer protection law;
-- Volkswagen will increase the availability of Zero Emissions Vehicles in Pennsylvania and the other states, including battery electric cars; and
-- Volkswagen will increase its contribution to a mitigation trust fund – states can apply for monies from this fund for various environmental programs.  
Under the earlier settlement with Volkswagen reached last year, the automaker agreed to pay $13.1 million in civil penalties to the Pennsylvania Treasury, $5 million in costs to the  Office of Attorney General, and $2.5 million deposits each into the Commonwealth’s Clean Air and Motor License funds.
In addition, there was direct consumer restitution for the faulty emissions devices, administered by federal authorities.   
Earlier in the week, the Office of Attorney General filed a Complaint and Consent Petition in Commonwealth Court which memorialized the earlier settlement in principle, resolving the consumer issues. Judicial review of the complaint is pending.  
The Office of Attorney General is representing the departments of Environmental Protection and Transportation in the Volkswagen settlement agreements, and Attorney General Shapiro commended these state agencies and Governor Tom Wolf for their ongoing collaboration on the complex litigation.  
“Every step we’re taking is to protect Pennsylvanians’ rights to a clean environment and consumers’ rights to fair deals when they buy cars in our Commonwealth,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “Pennsylvanians purchased or leased nearly 23,000 Volkswagen vehicles on the promise they were good for the environment and the opposite was true. This settlement will help deliver justice by making Volkswagen pay up for the real harms caused by its deceptions and illegal pollution and builds on our efforts to deliver a cleaner environment for Pennsylvanians.”
VW To Pay Over $157M To Settle Emissions Claims By 10 States

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