Harris County and the state of Texas have brought a $100 million environmental suit against Volkswagen, alleging the auto manufacture installed software to fool emissions testing of its clean diesel vehicles.
The state, acting on behalf of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality as a necessary and indispensable party, and the county, which encompasses the city of Houston, filed the suit against Volkswagen Group of America and Audi of America on Sept. 29 in Harris County District Court.
According to the lawsuit, Volkswagen developed and installed software for vehicles that sensed when the vehicle was being tested for compliance with emissions standards.
The electronic control module of the vehicle allegedly would run software that produces compliant emission results during testing. However, during normal operations, the ECM ran software that reduced the effectiveness of the emission control system, resulting in emitted nitrogen oxide at an estimated 10 to 40 times above allowable levels.
The suit alleges Volkswagen installed the software on the VW Jetta, Jetta Sportswagen, Golf, Beetle, Beetle Convertible, and Audi A3 models, beginning in 2009 and continuing until Aug. 31.
“Harris County has long been plagued with poor air quality due to emissions from various sources, ranging from industrial to vehicular traffic,” the suit states, adding that Volkswagen sold, by conservative estimates, “more than 6,000 of the fraudulently manipulated emission control vehicles” in the county.
Volkswagen is accused of multiple violations of the Texas Water Code.
Harris County is requesting that the defendants be assessed a civil penalty between $50 and $25,000 for each day and act of violation, with each daily violation of each statutory provision being a separate violation.
The county is represented by Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan, Houston attorney Richard Mithoff and several more attorneys from the Baker Wotring law firm.
Case No. 2015-57864