Harris County to file lawsuit against Volkswagen

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Volkswagen is in the middle of a scandal after the Environmental Protection Agency accused the automaker of programming cars to evade emissions standards.

Now, Harris County may be the first to file a government suit against Volkswagen.

"It's one thing to fight pollution. It's another to find out that Volkswagen, of all companies, was lying to the world," said Vince Ryan, the Harris County Attorney.

Harris County has filed a lawsuit, claiming Volkswagen violated Texas environmental laws in the county when it sold cars with fraudulent emissions control devices to make their cars look cleaner than they were.

"The first thing we looked at was deceptive trade practices. Obviously. Volkswagen knew what was going on but did not tell the public that," said Ryan.
The county is suing for more than $100 million dollars -- calculated by the number of cars on the road here.

"Each car -- and there's at least 6,000 of these cars in Harris County -- each car is polluting, not just a little bit, but a lot because of this apparent deception by Volkswagen," said Ryan.

They said it would have been a $50 dollar minimum fine for each of these 6,000 cars. Add that up over the course of a year, for more than $100 million.

"That's the mind-boggling size of this deception by Volkswagen that they've been perpetrating this for this number of years, why they've been marking their cars as fuel-efficient and cutting down on pollution if you buy our cars, not adding to it," said Ryan.

Officials said the pollution level is 10 - 40 times higher than what's legal in Texas and that it's become a health concern.

"We have a challenge to have an environment that's livable and good for people and these types of pollutions just aggravate issues that people already have," said Ryan.

FOX 26 News reached out to Volkswagen. A spokesperson responded, "We don't comment on pending or active litigation."