VW Starts Environmental-Suit Settlement Talks With States

  • Talks to start no later than Nov. 1, car maker says in filing
  • VW moves environmental cases to U.S. Judge Charles Breyer

Volkswagen AG will start negotiating with a group of U.S. states to settle lawsuits filed over claims the carmaker violated their environmental laws by equipping vehicles with software to manipulate emissions controls.

The company said in a court filing Tuesday that the talks will start no later than Nov. 1, after all sides agreed to move the lawsuit to U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco, who presided over related cases that were settled in June. VW said it will provide the states with documents and information related to the claims.

Volkswagen’s $15.3 billion settlement with federal regulators, car owners and 44 U.S. states covers only models from 2009 and later. The company, which is also the target of potentially costly criminal probes in the U.S., Germany and South Korea, admitted in September to using so-called defeat devices, which allowed vehicles to pass official tests while still emitting up to 40 times more pollutants than permitted under U.S. law during regular driving conditions. Worldwide, about 11 million vehicles were equipped with the rigged diesel engines.

"Volkswagen is committed to reaching a fair and efficient resolution of remaining federal and state diesel claims in the United States," company spokesman Hermann Prax said in a statement. "This standstill agreement will provide a constructive route to resolving any remaining environmental claims."

The states of Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington are involved in the batch of cases being transferred to Breyer. Four of them filed lawsuits contending the carmaker violated their laws by installing the devices in 2.0-liter and 3.0-liter engines. Washington issued a notice of penalty under its laws, according to the filing. The states’ attorneys general announced the suits last month.

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