- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 23, 2015

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Volkswagen has been sued in Vermont over allegations the German automaker falsified emissions testing in its so-called “clean diesel” vehicles, a leading law firm in the state announced Wednesday.

Tristram Coffin, a lawyer with Downs Rachlin Martin and a former Vermont U.S. attorney, said Charlotte resident Robert Turnau would be the lead plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit. Turnau bought a VW Jetta TDI with a diesel engine in September of 2013.

The suit was the first sign of significant fallout in Vermont from the admission by Volkswagen that it had rigged diesel emissions to pass U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tests. The smog-test trickery has wiped out billions in market value for the company.

Coffin said thousands of Vermont owners of 2008 and later models of the Volkswagen Jetta, Beetle, Golf, Passat and Audi A3 diesel models could be plaintiffs in the case, which was filed in the Superior Court for Chittenden County.

The suit alleges Volkswagen violated the Vermont Consumer Protection Act. The company “sold cars that they represented to have clean diesel, environmentally friendly engines when in fact they knew that the engines in the cars they sold did not meet emissions standards and in fact had been equipped with an operating system designed to deceive emissions testing….”

An email sent to the Volkswagen media office did not draw an immediate response. The company issued a statement from the executive committee of its board saying it “takes the matter extremely seriously. The Executive Committee recognizes not only the economic damage caused, but also the loss of trust among many customers worldwide.”

The Vermont suit said plaintiffs had been damaged by the diminished value, including resale value, of their VW cars. The suit requests triple damages and attorneys’ fees.

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