First Idaho lawsuit filed over VW emissions cheating

Ketchum resident Chelsea Noggle is suing Volkswagen after her 2015 diesel Golf Sportwagen, similar to this one, was discovered with software that distorted emission readings.
Ketchum resident Chelsea Noggle is suing Volkswagen after her 2015 diesel Golf Sportwagen, similar to this one, was discovered with software that distorted emission readings. Associated Press

A Ketchum woman says she would have never bought a diesel-engine Volkswagen if she had known it didn’t come as advertised: fuel efficient and good for the environment.

Chelsea Noggle purchased a new 2015 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen with a 2.0-liter engine in August 2015 from Boise Volkswagen, which is not named in the lawsuit. She is one of more than 500 U.S. residents who has filed suit against the German automaker for rigging its cars to make them appear they were releasing far less air pollution than they were.

The suit, filed late last month in U.S. District Court in Boise, seeks to have Volkswagen Group of America buy back the car at the original sale price, replace the automobile for free or remove all defects so that it meets state and federal emissions standards and delivers promised fuel efficiency and engine performance.

Noggle also seeks unspecified damages to be proven at trial.

The lawsuit was field by Fredric Shoemaker of the Boise firm Greener Burke Shoemaker Oberrecht. It claims Volkswagen intentionally broke the law in selling cars that evaded clean air standards.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer of San Francisco was selected to hear the lawsuits filed across the country. Breyer, the brother of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, is expected to consolidate the suits, including those filed as class actions.

The lawsuits were filed after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced last September that Volkswagen installed software that fraudulently made it appear that some vehicles outfitted with 1.2-, 1.6- and 2.0-liter diesel engines met emissions standards. The software was included in nearly 600,000 diesel vehicles sold or imported into the United States between 2009 and 2015.

The software, which made emissions control equipment kick in when it sensed a testing sensor was in place, was installed in 11 million vehicles worldwide. The software hid how much nitrogen oxide was released into the air when the vehicles were operating on the road.

Volkswagen admitted its software skewed test results.

The Idaho lawsuit claims Volkswagen’s actions violate federal law, Idaho’s Consumer Protection Act and a separate state “lemon law.”

Last month, the federal Justice Department warned Volkswagen that it could face up to $46 billion in penalties for violation of the Clean Air Act.

More than 60,000 European consumers are involved in a class action suit against Volkswagen. The lawsuit was filed in the Netherlands because Germany does not allow class action suits.

The company has set aside more than $7.1 billion and is seeking another $21.2 billion in bank financing to cover the costs of the scandal. Industry analysts say the company could end up spending more than $44.9 billion.

The Northern District of California was selected to hear the cases because a fifth of the U.S. lawsuits were filed in California. Breyer, 74, was chosen by the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, based in New Orleans, because of his experience handling complex cases and multistate lawsuits.

Volkswagen spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan has said the company will “vigorously defend itself” in the lawsuits.

Volkswagen offered $1,000 in a goodwill gesture to owners of the affected cars in the U.S., $500 in a prepaid Visa card and a $500 voucher good at Volkswagen dealers. The company said 260,000 owners have accepted the offer.

John Sowell: 208-377-6423, @IDS_Sowell