By TED CARTER
Mississippi has joined more than two dozen other states in investigating whether German car manufacturer Volkswagen used deceptive trade practices to convince consumers that their cars were environmentally friendly, when they weren’t.
Attorney General Jim Hood’s office declined to say whether Mississippi joined the multi-state investigation. The office said only that “the nature of this investigation has been discussed in general, we cannot confirm the details of the multi state” probe.
Hood’s Texas counterpart, Ken Paxton, included Mississippi among states that are looking at whether VW violated consumer protection laws of their respective states. Additionally, the environmental regulatory agencies of some states will investigate possible violations of environmental protection laws, according to Paxton.
Along with Texas and Mississippi, states participating in the consumer-protection law investigation are Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia.
Attorney General Paxton earlier this month sued Volkswagen Group of America and Audi of America claiming the automakers violated Texas consumer protection laws and the state’s clean air standards.
Texas wants restitution on behalf of consumers victimized by Volkswagen’s “deceptions and misrepresentations.”
Texas consumers bought about 32,000 of the so-called “clean vehicles” equipped with the fraudulent pollution control software.
A press release from Paxton’s office said a Volkswagen vehicle’s emissions with the Type EA 189 engines would run up to 40 times higher than the amount shown during the emissions standards testing. Volkswagen confirmed it sold U.S. consumers more than 480,000 such vehicles in model years 2009-2015. The automaker accomplished the deception by programming the vehicles’ catalytic converter technology to manipulate the data produced during emissions standards testing, the Associated Press reported.
The AP said earlier this month that Volkswagen acknowledged the deception to U.S. regulators on Sept. 3, more than a year after researchers published a study showing the real-world emissions of two VW models were far higher than allowed.
As many of 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide are reported to have been fitted with the pollution control cheating software.
Volkswagen, meanwhile, announced last week it is recalling 8.5 million vehicles across Europe in light of the company’s ongoing diesel emissions scandal, the AP reported. VW said in a statement the repairs will begin in January 2016.
The automaker faces fines and lawsuits globally over use of the deceptive software.
Lawyers in Arkansas filed two of those civil suits and are seeking class-action status for them. The first Arkansas lawsuit, filed Sept. 22 in Pulaski County Circuit Court, names as defendants the company’s American unit, Volkswagen Group of America, and an Arkansas dealer, Landers Auto Group LLC, Arkansas Business reported.
The second suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Fayetteville three days after the first one, names Volkswagen Group of America, along with parent Volkswagen AG, Arkansas Business reported.
The business publication reported that lawyers filed the complaints on behalf of Arkansans who bought VW vehicles equipped with the pollution deception software. The suits claim fraud, breach of contract and violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, among other charges.
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