Volkswagen is bringing another explosive legal dispute over the emissions scandal to America’s highest court, the so-called Supreme Court, and the group filed a petition for review of the case on Tuesday (local time). VW suffered a serious legal defeat against the state of Ohio in June, which could eventually lead to new penalties for the systematic handling of exhaust fumes in diesel cars. The company hopes the decision will be overturned by the Supreme Court.
VW believes that claims from districts and individual states such as Ohio have already been offset by penalties and compensation the company had to pay for violating U.S. air quality law. . Several other US courts have arrived at this assessment in similar cases. VW has already racked up more than € 30 billion in costs due to the emissions scandal, the majority of it for penalties and compensation payments in the United States.
However, it is not clear whether the Supreme Court will deal with the case. Ohio is also just one of many legal arenas where VW still grapples with the legacy of the diesel affair. In January, the automaker had already seized the highest American court for similar lawsuits in two districts of the states of Florida and Utah. In September 2015, under pressure from US environmental authorities, VW admitted to having manipulated diesel car exhaust technology for years with special software.
In fact, the process of settling the scandal after a compromise with vehicle owners and authorities in the United States has long been seen as over. However, due to a decision by an appeals court in June 2020, Volkswagen must continue to process the proceedings for possible additional penalties. It is not entirely clear to what extent this will lead to greater financial risks again. On the basis of regional catalogs of fines, horrific sanctions could be threatened. In legal circles close to the group, however, the pending cases are nothing but double-digit million charges.
From VW’s perspective, the proceedings also address fundamental legal issues that could lead to regulatory chaos endangering the entire auto industry. Individual state and district requirements, which go beyond comparisons already made at the national level, “would seriously compromise the ability of the US environmental agency EPA to regulate emissions from cars,” Volkswagen said. In their petition to the United States Supreme Court, lawyers for the group called lawsuits like the Ohio one “unprecedented” and contrary to current case law.
VW’s first such case before the U.S. Supreme Court concerns possible additional penalties from the counties of Florida and Utah. For its move, the group has received approval from almost the entire automotive industry. VW has received support from various lobby groups through so-called amicus briefs, with which passers-by can take sides in US proceedings. The industry is interested in uniform regulation and fears the high legal risks of a precedent. It is not yet clear whether the Supreme Court will take up the case. However, the court asked for further statements.