Supreme Court Rejects Appeal By Car Company

( Volkswagen AG will have to face lawsuits that were filed in three separate states after the Supreme Court rejected the company’s bid to dismiss the suits.

On Monday, the high court ruled that the lawsuits against the German automaker can proceed. The suits seek damages that stem from Volkswagen’s cheating scandal revolving around diesel emissions.

Both Volkswagen and Robert Bosch LLC, a German auto supplier, had appealed a ruling from lower courts, but the Supreme Court decided not to hear those appeals.

Lower courts in Salt Lake County in Utah and Hillsborough County in Florida ruled that the companies could both be held liable under local regulations and laws that bar companies from tampering with emissions controls in vehicles. Volkswagen had also appealed a ruling that was similar to those two that was brought in Ohio.

In response to the Supreme Court’s decision to not hear their appeals, a spokesman for Volkswagen said the decision wasn’t a “determination of the merits” of the legal arguments the company is putting forth. The spokesman told Reuters:

“We are confident in the strength of our factual and legal defenses, including that the software updates reduced emissions, and will contest these claims vigorously as these cases proceed.”

Volkswagen Group of American Inc. in court has argued that only the U.S. federal government could pursue the claims that are being brought against them in the three states, per the Clean Air Act. The company also said that it’s already agreed to a more than $20 billion settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency over the issue.

The lawsuits in question are accusing Volkswagen of deceiving the EPA and also violating local laws in those states.

A spokesperson for Dave Yost, the attorney general of Ohio, commented:

“We’re pleased the Supreme Court recognized that federal environmental law does not give car manufacturers the right to defraud Ohioans.”

Another spokesperson serving the lawyers for the two counties also said the action “reaffirmed that local governments play a critical role in combating air pollution.”

Perhaps part of the reason why the Supreme Court decided not to hear Volkswagen’s appeals was that the Biden administration had urged them to do so. The high court asked the White House to weigh in on the matter, and they opined that the Clean Air Act allows local governing bodies to enforce state laws.

Volkswagen has also been arguing that these lawsuits could force them to face enormous damages. In September, the company announced it had come to a settlement agreement for claims in both Montana and New Hampshire that totaled $1.5 million.

This all originated from 2015, when Volkswagen finally disclosed that it used sophisticated software to help the company evade requirements set for nitrogen oxide emissions. The fraud affected almost 11 million of the company’s vehicles across the world.

In addition, Volkswagen admitted that they were misleading the EPA. The agency first started questioning leaders within Volkswagen about their practices in 2014.