VW Faces Separate Arizona Consumer Fraud Charges

By Holliday Moore
Howie Fischer, Capitol Media Services
Published: Monday, October 16, 2017 - 8:41am
Updated: Monday, October 16, 2017 - 10:12am

Volkswagen may have agreed to pay more than $8 billion in federal penalties and fines for defrauding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with its diesel cars. But, the car company is now defending itself against consumer fraud charges in individual states, including Arizona.

VW's legal team hopes to convince a Maricopa County Superior Court judge that when its television ads claimed to have "clean diesel" for its VW, Audi and Porsche brands the word "clean" was "legal puffery" and not a statement of fact.

In a January hearing, Assistant Attorney General O.H. Skinner will argue that "The puffery doctrine" does not apply to what he called, "long-running intentional deceptive practices."

Based on those "clean" claims, the A.G.'s office argues buyers paid VW up to $7,000 more than comparable vehicles, under the assumption they were cutting down on emissions.

Last year, VW engineers were found guilty of programming cars to enter a low-power mode when taking emissions tests, which would temporarily drop its nitrogen oxide pollution output. At full power, some vehicles were found to be emitting 40 times more pollution than allowed by federal law.

If the A.G.'s office succeeds in convincing the judge to rule against VW, the car company could face more than $110 million in additional fines on behalf of Arizona consumers who bought the brand between 2009 and 2016.

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