New Jersey Governor Christie today announced Volkswagen Group of America will pay the State $69 million to settle allegations that it violated New Jersey’s clean air statutes and defrauded consumers by selling diesel vehicles equipped with “cheat” software that deactivated their on-board emission controls except during emissions testing.
“Aggressive pursuit of our own litigation against Volkswagen in Superior Court was the proper course for the State, and is now paying dividends on behalf of New Jersey citizens,” Governor Christie said. “In an effort to boost its diesel vehicle sales in America, Volkswagen engaged in historically deceitful practices. The company put market share ahead of integrity and profit ahead of lawful compliance, and we held them accountable.”
The Volkswagen settlement resolves a stand-alone lawsuit brought by New Jersey against the auto maker in State Superior Court. Under the agreement, New Jersey is receiving roughly one-and-a-half times more dollars per vehicle than the amount paid to any other state that settled with VW over its deceptive practices.
“Auto makers – and any other businesses for that matter - have a duty to represent the products they sell honestly, and to ensure those products comply with all applicable laws. When they abdicate that responsibility, the State will take action,” said Executive Assistant Attorney General Kevin R. Jespersen.
New Jersey’s two-count Complaint against the auto maker was originally filed in February 2016. The State alleged that Volkswagen quietly developed, then falsely promoted, diesel vehicles that appeared to be environmentally friendly, but in fact were equipped with pollution control systems that only functioned during emissions testing. As a result, the lawsuit charged, Volkwagen cars spewed unlawful quantities of nitrogen oxides (“NOx”) into the air during everyday use. NOx has been linked to multiple respiratory diseases.
The litigation was handled by Executive Assistant Attorney General Kevin R. Jespersen, who was designated Acting Attorney General due to the recusal of Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino. Division of Law Assistant Attorneys General David Apy and John Falzone, and Deputy Attorneys General Aaron Love and Jeff Koziar also handled the Volkswagen matter on behalf of the state.