Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan announced that a Vermont judge has given final approval to the State of Vermont’s $4.2 million settlement with Volkswagen Auto Group. The settlement, originally announced in late Spring, needed to be approved by a Vermont court after the case was sent back to Vermont from a multi-district litigation in California. The settlement’s approval resolves the environmental portions of a case filed by Vermont relating to Volkswagen’s sale and lease of diesel automobiles that were fitted with illegal “defeat devices” used to conceal the release of harmful pollutants in excess of Vermont’s vehicle emission standards. Vermont’s consumer protection claims against Volkswagen stemming from the “green” marketing of these vehicles remain active. The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) worked closely with the Attorney General’s Office in support of the case.
This settlement is believed to mark the first time that Vermont and other states who have adopted California’s stringent vehicle emissions standards, have secured environmental penalties from an auto manufacturer for violations of auto emissions standards.
Vermont’s leadership in vehicle emission protection dates to at least 2007 when the State prevailed in a federal lawsuit brought by national motor vehicle dealers and manufacturers who sought to block the State of Vermont from implementing the California greenhouse gas emission standards for new automobiles.
As part of related settlements with the federal government last year, Volkswagen must implement a restitution and recall program for approximately 3,000 Vermonters who owned or leased 2.0-liter diesel vehicles. Owners of 3.0-liter vehicles are also eligible for restitution and recall and/or repair. Volkswagen also created a national $2.7 billion mitigation trust fund to support environmental programs that reduce NOx emissions. Vermont’s share of the mitigation trust fund is approximately $18.7 million. Volkswagen is also required to invest $2 billion nationally to support use of zero emission vehicles.
The Attorney General’s Volkswagen litigation team consists of: Assistant Attorneys General Nick Persampieri, Merideth Chaudoir and Jill Abrams, with support from Megan O’Toole of ANR’s Air Quality and Climate Division.
Last modified: January 4, 2018