DETROIT — The U.S. Justice Department filed a civil lawsuit on Monday against Volkswagen AG over the diesel-emissions scandal, as consumers continue to wait for a recall repair for vehicles fitted with so-called "defeat devices."
The lawsuit was filed in Detroit on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and alleges that nearly 600,000 diesel-engine vehicles had "illegal defeat devices installed that impair their emission-control systems and cause emissions to exceed EPA's standards, resulting in harmful air pollution," the filing said.
The complaint alleges that VW violated the U.S. Clean Air Act by selling vehicles that are designed differently from ones originally approved for sale by the EPA.
"With today's filing, we take an important step to protect public health by seeking to hold Volkswagen accountable for any unlawful air pollution, setting us on a path to resolution," said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for the EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "So far, recall discussions with the company have not produced an acceptable way forward.
"These discussions will continue in parallel with the federal court action."
The affected vehicles were able to meet U.S. emissions standards in the laboratory and test site, but during normal driving emit pollutants up to 40 times the level allowed by the EPA.
Volkswagen issued a statement acknowledging the lawsuit and said it will "continue to work cooperatively with the EPA on developing remedies to bring the TDI vehicles into full compliance with regulations as soon as possible."
It added: "In addition, we are working with Kenneth Feinberg to develop an independent, fair and swift process for resolving private consumer claims relating to these issues. We will continue to cooperate with all government agencies investigating these matters and will follow up with you as additional information becomes available."
Affected Volkswagen AG 2.0-liter diesel models and model years include:
Affected 3.0-liter diesel models and model years include:
Edmunds says: The civil lawsuit does not preclude the federal government from seeking other legal remedies against VW, including criminal charges, the Justice Department noted.